I am not sure where to begin with this one. The titles I considered will give you some idea of the possible directions this post could have taken:
- Roanoke Captain Called A Boon to Local Attorneys (2 lawsuits and a grievance hearing in just over a year provide needed relief to Roanoke lawyers in a down economy);
- Sex Crazed Firefighters Stealing Legal Headlines (five of the past six fire law blog posts involved some sort of sexual misconduct or sex based issue).
- Good News Bad News For Roanoke Captain (your now a lieutenant but at least you have a job).
But in the final analysis I figured the best bet is to just to tell the story in the simplest terms possible.
Roanoke Fire Captain Dennis Croft, who was terminated for having sex in the fire station while on duty on April 15, 2010, has been reinstated but demoted to lieutenant. That decision was issued this week by a city grievance panel.
Croft denies he has sex in the station but acknowledges he allowed his then girlfriend, EMT Deborah Van Ness, to spend the night at his station. He even reported the infraction immediately to his superiors and because both parties agreed no sex was involved, he received a reprimand.
Croft’s problems began when his relationship with Van Ness ended, and she changed her story claiming that they did in fact have sex in the fire station on the evening in question. As a result Croft was terminated. Croft sued Van Ness for defamation (suit #1) and filed a grievance over his termination.
He also filed a suit against the city to challenge the make up of the grievance panel (suit #2). Croft lost both of the lawsuits. In the defamation suit the judge ruled that since both parties agree they had a sexual relationship the only dispute was over the dates, and that was not actionable as defamation. In the grievance panel make up case, the court ruled that the city had the right to select the panel.
Nevertheless, the most important decision of the three cases – the grievance panel’s decision on Croft’s future employment with the city – was a victory. Croft was reinstated, although as a lieutenant.
By the way, did you catch Linda Willing’s post on sexual misconduct in the fire service? You can’t make this stuff up!!!!