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Ludowici officials defend chief's suspension

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POSTED: January 13, 2014 9:51 a.m.
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James Rogers had been chief of the Ludowici Police Department since October 2012.

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Ludowici Police Department Chief James Rogers has been put on administrative leave without pay, pending the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, the reported use of racial slurs and a possible EEOC investigation stemming from events that may have occurred at the Ludowici Police Department, according to City Attorney Joe Kitchings, who spoke Friday morning on behalf of the city.
The move was made in light of information obtained by the city council and Mayor James Fuller.
Last week, Waynesville attorney Joseph Segui provided a letter to the city of Ludowici on behalf of his client, former Ludowici Police Department employee Robert Kicklighter, who is at odds with the city over the circumstances surrounding his departure. Kicklighter said he was terminated by Rogers. Kitchings said Kicklighter resigned.
In Segui’s letter, Kicklighter, who was hired on Oct. 8, claimed that Rogers attempted to terminate his employment Dec. 23. According to Kitchings, however, Rogers told the city that Kicklighter resigned. Kitchings said the letter made other allegations of inappropriate behavior, but none of the allegations had been substantiated by any other witnesses until Thursday.
On Thursday, Kitchings said, the city received copies of three letters addressed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Savannah office from two former police-department employees and one current employee. The city also received a copy of a two statements from a former Ludowici Jail inmate and a Long State Prison trustee assigned to the jail. The statements accuse Rogers of misconduct and allege that he allowed inappropriate behavior at the department. The Courier also received copies of these documents provided by Segui. After receiving the documents, the Courier contacted all three employees to verify their written statements and confirm each complainants allegations. The former inmates were unavailable.
Kitchings said that as a result of this new information, Rogers was put on the administrative leave, and the city is conducting an investigation. If additional help is needed, the city will request assistance with the investigation.
On Friday, the Courier also received additional information showing that Segui applied for four criminal warrants against Rogers in the Long County Magistrate Court on Jan. 10. The alleged offenses include falsifying public records, statements and writings; and ordering an employee to falsify a public document to conceal retaliation against a different employee. A probable-cause hearing will be held Jan. 29 at the Long County Probate Office to review the warrant requests and determine whether any further action will be taken.
Rogers was contacted Friday by the Courier but declined to comment.
Rogers was hired by Ludowici on Oct. 5, 2012. Officer James Steiner is currently serving as the interim chief for the police department.


 

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