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County settles suit with deputy who surfed porn at work

from www.daytondailynews.com – Warren County has settled a federal lawsuit out of court with a former sheriff’s lieutenant who admitted he spent more than 100 hours surfing online porn sites while on duty at the jail.

The six count lawsuit, filed in federal court in Cincinnati January 2008, accused former Sheriff Tom Ariss and others of discriminating against Shaun Wells when he was fired in 2006. Wells was not seeking reinstatement, but wanted money to compensate him for his job and benefits loss, humiliation, attorneys fees and he also sought punitive damages in excess of $100,000.

“It has been resolved,” said county’s attorney Mark Troutman, but would not divulge details about the confidential settlement.

Court documents show following an investigation, Wells admitted to spending “up to six hours during shifts viewing pornography and masturbating.”

Wells claimed he was diagnosed with a “dysthymic disorder” that caused him to be addicted to sex and pornography. The suit claimed he tried to get help with his addiction and the county should have made accommodations for him to continue work while he was being treated. The suit also notes that six other employees were also found improperly surfing sites, but weren’t fired.

The documents filed by the county indicate Wells’ disability discrimination claims were unfounded, because his “disorder” is not protected under state and federal law and he never asked for any accommodations. As for the other staffers who were disciplined but not fired, none of them masturbated, none spent the amount of time Wells did surfing and some weren’t of his rank, according to the county.

Sheriff Larry Sims said his office launched a forensic investigation when another supervisor at the jail started suspecting the jail computers were being used in an inappropriate manner.

Oftentimes when the sheriff disciplines his staff they will take the matter up with the union. The union did not side with Wells on this one.

“When an employee gets disciplined they have an opportunity to file a grievance,” he said. “The union themselves have to decide whether they want to arbitrate it, that’s done by a vote of their executive board. Their executive board voted to not arbitrate Wells’ termination. They did not process any kind of an effort to argue the termination.”

Wells and his attorney could not be reached for comment.

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