Jan. 10--The second-in-command at the Columbus Division of Fire has been transferred out of that post.
Fire Chief Gregory A. Paxton said moving Assistant Chief David Whiting from the division's top administrative job to run the fire-prevention bureau had nothing to do with allegations this past fall that Whiting tried to cover up a sex scandal involving Firefighter Mark Cain.
"Part of this is it was my goal from Day One when I was made chief to prepare the next generation of leaders and give them the most experience at different areas of the division," Paxton said. "It does not at all have anything to do with issues involving Firefighter Cain."
Paxton announced the change this week.
Assistant Chief David Walton will replace Whiting. Whiting will take Walton's post in the fire-prevention bureau, which handles fire and bomb investigations and inspects fire-prevention equipment in new buildings.
Paxton is scheduled to retire in early 2015.
Walton, 50, Whiting, 52, and Paxton, 60, were Mayor Michael B. Coleman's top-three finalists for fire chief in 2012.
Paxton held the second-in-command position, then called the executive officer and now called the administrative officer, when Coleman named him chief.
Cain is under investigation for an affair he had with a young woman while on duty. Cain has admitted to sexual contact with the woman and sending her pictures of his genitals while on duty.
Cain, 48, has denied that he and the woman, who was 18 when the affair began more than two years ago, ever had sex in the fire station.
Whiting removed himself from the investigation this past summer after allegations surfaced that he had contacted Cain outside the course of the investigation to give him information about it. Firefighters also said Battalion Chief Dwayne White, head of the division's professional-standards unit at the time, also contacted Cain outside the course of the investigation.
Firefighters who worked with Cain at Station 17 on the Hilltop said he contacted them during the inquiry to try to get information. In one instance, Cain notified a firefighter that the firefighter would be questioned by investigators before that firefighter was notified by the division.
Investigators later questioned Whiting and White. White was removed from the investigation and in November, was stripped of his post at headquarters and transferred to a fire station.
Whiting told the Dispatch in October that he contacted Cain because the young woman's father had threatened to kill Cain. Whiting is on vacation and couldn't be reached yesterday.
Assistant Fire Chief Kent Searle has recommended that Cain be fired. Cain's disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for next week.
Paxton said he will make a ruling on punishment after that hearing. His decision will then be reviewed by Mitchell J. Brown, the city's public safety director, who will make the final decision.
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