Latta town adminstrator releases statement on firing of police c - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Latta town adminstrator releases statement on firing of police chief

Latta Town Administrator Jarett Taylor released a statement via Facebook Sunday morning on the firing of Latta Police Chief Crystal Moore, which took place Thursday. (Source: WMBF News) Latta Town Administrator Jarett Taylor released a statement via Facebook Sunday morning on the firing of Latta Police Chief Crystal Moore, which took place Thursday. (Source: WMBF News)

LATTA ,SC (WMBF) – Latta Town Administrator Jarett Taylor released a statement via Facebook Sunday morning on the firing of Latta Police Chief Crystal Moore, which took place Thursday.

Taylor said he is upset by allegations by Moore’s attorney, Malissa Burnette. Burnette 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.

Taylor said he released the statement in order to clarify the town’s actions regarding the sexual harassment claim and the manner in which it was reported.

Here is a portion of the statement:

After reading statements released by the media from Mrs. Moore’s representative, I am upset at her allegations and want to clarify the town actions discussed in her letter. I am not sure where these alleged statements are generated from but town files are kept private unless there was, in fact, a deeper breach of personnel files by Mrs. Moore than previously thought and this will be further looked into.

The town will stand by the right to keep all information regarding this purported harassment issue private, but we maintain that the issue has been handled to the best of our ability and in accordance with town policy. On August 13, 2016, myself and two other council members presented Mrs. Moore a reprimand related to Policy #1-3, page 9 that states Any employee who feels he or she has been sexually harassed should immediately report the incident to his or her supervisor. Should the employee feel they cannot discuss this problem with their supervisor, they should report the incident to their department head, or the Mayor or the designee. Any supervisor who receives a complaint of sexual harassment should immediately report it to the department head, or the Mayor or the designee. Video surveillance footage of town hall shows Mrs. Moore’s account of events. There was over an hour delay in attempting to notify any supervisor. Mrs. Moore had the possibility to contact two immediate council members as supervisors or an assistant administrator (council member) in the absence of my ability to be reached. No other attempts were made to contact the first three members of council due to my unavailability. Members of council thought it to be inappropriate to wait so long when town policy dictates immediately. 
 

Mrs. Moore’s representative also make a claim that, “Later on August 13, Taylor asked Chief Moore to write a statement that the perpetrator had no “ill intent” with his actions. Chief Moore declined. (I have the text messages) Taylor then retaliated by issuing a written reprimand to which he attached a one-page narrative misstating the facts and implying that he had no prior knowledge of the sexual harassment of the young woman.”

The text message in question from me states, “Hey, I was tired last night and I apologize for being as drained as I was. I think I recall last night that you said that you didn’t think (an employee name) had any ill intent with his actions. Can you write a statement to the fact of what you saw and how you felt about the interaction? Thanks.” Mrs. Moore responded six minutes later, “No, I said I have never seen anything. All I have heard was he said, she said stuff. I never have witness anything personally.” I respond with, “I see thanks.” This text clearly show a date of August 20, 2016 at 1:16 p.m. This text came seven days after the initial reprimand given to Mrs. Moore dealing with the harassment issue. Each employee that claimed to know something was asked to give a written statement as the town investigated those allegations. The above text was my contact with Mrs. Moore for her statement. Mrs. Moore’s representative stated above her lack of response is what generated the first reprimand. In fact, Mrs. Moore clearly responded and gave a statement.

The above incident was the only incident that directly involved any employee harassment. Mrs. Moore has received a reprimand for lack of police maintenance records because there have been an increase in repairs, a reprimand for going into an employee file which is unrelated to the police department and looking at unauthorized information, a reprimand for discussing a departing employee’s salary at another job during an open council meeting, and the latest termination reprimand that I feel speaks for itself. Mrs. Moore’s continued insistence that she did no wrong, coupled with her contribution to the depletion of employee morale forced the council to make the decision that was made. Our continued thoughts and well wishes are with Mrs. Moore in her future endeavors, but we feel like we must do what is best for the citizens of Latta and the current employees of Latta.

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