3 file lawsuit against Muscogee Co. sheriff John Darr

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) –   There are new details on a lawsuit filed by three veteran officers against Muscogee County sheriff John Darr.

The suit claims Sheriff Darr reassigned or demoted female officers while promoting men that had less qualification.

News Leader 9 talked to Columbus city attorney Clifton Fay and he said Darr takes this very seriously and "it will be defended vigorously." News Leader 9 also tried to reach the Sheriff numerous times, but were told he will be out of town until later this week.

The three plaintiffs - Terri Ezell, Donna Tompkins, and Joan Wynn - are demanding a trial. In the lawsuit, they say that in 21 months with Darr as sheriff there have been 23 promotions - one of those female.

Other defendants are Columbus Consolidated Government, City Manager Isaiah Hugley, and HR Director Thomas Barron.

The lawsuit states:  "Sheriff Darr has regularly and repeatedly discriminated against female sworn officers and created a glass ceiling making it difficult, if not impossible, for women to get promoted...with knowledge and approval of defendants CCG, Hugley, and Barron."

News Leader 9 has also learned Sheriff Darr recently requested an inquiry by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation into leaks of protected information from the Muscogee County Sheriff's office.

Attorney Mark Shelnutt says his client came to him with a list of concerns about the Sheriff's department including how accounts were being handled, the medical eligibility of certain employees, and gender discrimination.

Shelnutt says he presented these complaints to the City Attorney and two other attorneys.  He says he was then asked for documentation.  After providing the documentation, Shelnutt says the Sheriff requested a GBI investigation into possible leaks of information in the department.

Now, the attorney says his client has become the focus of that investigation.

The attorney says he is not surprised with the timing claiming the Sheriff was trying to lessen the blow when he knew more complaints were coming.

"Sheriff, right after you do this, talk about suspicious timing.  Bam!  Here comes those lawsuits, and he knew they were coming, and I believe the whole thing was done because he was trying to deflect attention," said Shelnutt.

Shelnutt says a letter was given to him from the Sheriff in response to his concerns claiming none of the accusations were true.

News Leader 9 will continue following this story.

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