Two former deputies in Wake County, North Carolina (home of Raleigh) say they were fired in retaliation for reporting their supervisor’s homophobic remarks.
Former Master Deputy Gray Speight and former Master Deputy Steven Williamson told WRAL that then Lieutenant Teddy Patrick (who was recently promoted to the higher rank of Captain by new sheriff Gerald Baker) outed a fellow deputy and signaled to members of the squad who were engaged in “sensitivity training” sessions that he didn’t like gay people.
Patrick told the deputies that if he encountered a man wearing a dress he wouldn’t enter that man’s house.
Said Williamson to WRAL: “It was very unprofessional being that he was a lieutenant and a teacher.”
An investigation was launched after rumors spread about what had taken place in the training sessions and deputies were questioned, which was when Williamson and Speight reported Patrick.
Patrick reported that what he said about gay people was true: “I said it, and I meant it.”
Patrick was demoted by then-sheriff Donnie Harrison despite recommendations that he be fired. When Gerald Baker became sheriff, an office with “legal authority to hire and fire as they wish” according to WRAL, he promoted Patrick to Captain and fired Speight and Williamson.
Williamson said that Patrick was there to escort him to turn in his equipment when he was fired.
Said Williamson: “It was almost like, kind of in your face, you know, ‘I’ll show you.’ That’s how it felt.”
WRAL also added that “Baker has also promoted at least three gay employees in the sheriff’s office during the transition, including the deputy who was outed during the training session.”
But LGBTQ groups said they were concerned about the signals sent by the sheriff’s department if the facts bore out.