05-28-2003, 10:58 AM #1
Martin County Fla--Abusive Firefighter Punished
Several months ago I posted a thread about a firefighter who was charged with being abusinve to a juvenile community service worker. Here is the follow up story...Sorry I could not find the original thread.
Martin firefighter punished for abusive language toward juvenile
By Gabriel Margasak staff writer
May 28, 2003
STUART — A Martin County firefighter has been reprimanded for calling a juvenile performing community service at a Palm City fire station a "little convict."
Firefighter David Womble, 29, "made inappropriate comments towards a community service worker that were verbally abusive," according to a letter of reprimand from Martin County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Henry Johnson.
The reprimand followed a county investigation of the case, which spawned a still-pending civil lawsuit by the juvenile and rumors of laxative-tainted brownies and Viagra-spiked ice cream at Palm City Station 21 in 2002.
"I have not found conclusive evidence to support the alleged complaint of tainted food," Linda Skelton, the county's human resources administrator, wrote in a report on the investigation released Tuesday.
"Statements do support, however, that David Womble referred to a community service worker as a 'little convict' and two employees stated that in their opinion treatment towards him (by David Womble) was verbally abusive," the report states.
The case first came to light in 2002, when a firefighter complained to superiors about tainted brownies. Fire rescue officials began an initial investigation.
Although no evidence of drug-tainted food was found, Womble, who declined to comment Tuesday, and another firefighter were suspended without pay for one 24-hour shift for "improper conduct or indecency" in the "horseplay."
In February, the community service worker, Thanny Schuck Jr., 14 at the time, and his father, filed a lawsuit alleging Womble called Schuck "the little convict," made sexual threats toward him and "on numerous occasions" placed "prescription medication, drugs and/or poison" into Schuck's food and forced him to eat it.
That lawsuit led to a second investigation. Womble was suspended with pay pending the outcome of that investigation, which resulted in the reprimand.
During an official interview with Skelton and fire rescue officials, Womble was asked whether he ever referred to the juvenile as "the little convict?"
"All community service workers that came to the station, I would refer to as such, rather than learning everyone's name for such a short period of time ... " Womble said in the transcripts of the meeting.
"I, it wasn't meant as a threat to anyone, he said, noting that he never physically threatened anyone at the fire station — including the youth.
Womble also was asked whether he ever made a sexual comment to the boy.
"I have made a statement like that to Lt. Baker, as a way of joking around the station," Womble said. "We have a fairly vulgar sense of humor. I don't ever recall saying that to (the youth.)"
Womble also said he put salt in his lieutenant's ice cream with the intention of telling him it was Viagra "as a prank."
However, he denied placing any other substance in any food at the station.
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The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
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