Latta town administrator: Handling of sexual harassment complaint led to police chief's firing

Latta town administrator: Handling of sexual harassment complaint led to police chief's firing

LATTA, SC (WMBF) – For the second time in less than three years, Crystal Moore has been fired from the Latta Police Department.

According to Moore, who had served as the town's police chief, she was fired in private after Thursday evening's regular town council meeting and had no idea it was coming.

Her firing comes a few weeks after Latta Town Administrator Jarrett Taylor suspended Moore for five days due to what he said at the time was a personal matter.

Moore was at the Latta Police Department Friday to pack up her personal things and turn her office and job over to Derrick Cartwright, who will serve as the town's interim police chief.

On Friday, Taylor said the main reason he let Moore go deals with a sexual harassment complaint against a town employee that was not properly filed by the former police chief.

Moore said the victim came to her after attempting to go to the town administrator first. She added she is related by marriage to the alleged perpetrator and asked a Dillon County Sheriff's deputy to file the harassment complaint in order to prevent a conflict of interest.

"It's just such turmoil and a whirlwind of effects," Moore said, becoming emotional at times. "I feel like I'm drowning. I feel like I'm suffocating ... and all I want to do is do what's right. All I did was a victim came to me and reported a sexual harassment. She had already talked to town council members and felt that nothing had been done and the person wasn't disciplined and was still having these attacks."

According to Taylor, firing Moore after Thursday's town council meeting was not an easy decision, as he has always stood behind her.

Malissa Burnette, Moore's attorney, said the real issue underlying her firing was the town administrator wanted to divert attention from his failure to adhere to law and policy when a female employee reported that a department head under Taylor's supervision had been sexually harassing her.

"Taylor did not conduct an immediate investigation or take appropriate action as required by law and policy, but instead protected the man and the sexual harassment continued," Burnette said.

The Columbia-based attorney added Moore is protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and they are filing a lawsuit against the town of Latta.

Thursday night, Moore took to Facebook to announce her firing and ask for prayers for her and her family.

Moore is also currently running for Dillon County Sheriff and indicated Thursday's firing would not stop her campaign.

Previously, Moore said the town's mayor fired her in 2014 for being openly gay after 25 years serving with the Latta Police Department. She was eventually rehired by her city.

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