Updated Mon, May 5, 2014 9:58 am
It's been nearly two years since Shannon Sheridan was able to call himself a deputy sheriff, but that changes Monday when he reports for work after a lengthy process that started when he was fired amidst allegations of sexual harassment.
Sheridan was fired by Sheriff Patrick Kelly in June of 2012. He had been employed with the office since 2004. According to Kelly, numerous complaints had been made against Sheridan, but Kelly alleged five specific transgressions that led to the deputy's termination.
An appeals process began and in February of this year the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review ordered that Sheridan be reinstated. Kelly appealed the decision and Sheridan appealed as well, presumably because of some of the stipulations the board made, including the order of a Last Chance Agreement, a 60-day suspension, completion of a sensitivity course and limited back pay.
Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith (serving while Kelly is suspended pending the outcome of a 25-count criminal case against him) announced Friday that Sheridan will return to work Monday.
"He was ordered back to work. He's right now being paid and we just felt he needs to get back to work," Smith said.
According to Smith, the appeals on both sides are still continuing. Sheridan's employment status could change, depending on the outcome of those appeal cases. In the meantime, Sheridan will meet with the sheriff's office administrative department to update himself on polices and procedures within the office and then move on to work with a field training officer.
Smith said that Sheridan will be reinstated as ordered by the board, including each stipulation. Sheridan will retain his accumulated seniority.
Sheridan's termination letter alleged that while serving as an instructor with the Athens County Sheriff's Office Academy he engaged in sexually harassing conduct with one of the cadets, specifically a comment about her hairstyle. The deputy was also accused of insubordination, failing to properly process and log evidence, arguing in public with another law enforcement officer and making false statements to a superior officer.
Smith noted that Sheridan will not be an instructor with the sheriff's academy, as Smith will not hold a sheriff's academy any longer.
Attorney Matthew Baker had been representing the sheriff's office in the appeals case. Although he originally made a motion to be removed as counsel at Smith's request, The Messenger reported last week that Baker has since been asked to return to the case.
When contacted, Sheridan said he was unable to comment on returning to work because of the office's media policy which states that all communication must go through the sheriff. Smith confirmed the policy with The Messenger Friday.