JP’s email details allegations: Sheriff denies using homophobic slur
Carroll County Sheriff Randy Mayfield has been accused of using a homophobic slur to describe District 3 Justice of the Peace Lamont Richie — a charge the sheriff denies.
At Monday’s October meeting of the Carroll County Quorum Court, Richie said a county official whom he did not identify had been accused by a subordinate of using the slur in reference to Richie. Richie said the same individual alleged that Mayfield also used profanity in describing District 1 JPJack Deaton.
Richie, who is gay, said the official denied using the slur but that the subordinate offered to take a lie detector test.
“One of them is lying, yet both are still working for the county,” Richie said.
On Tuesday, Carroll County Newspapers obtained a copy of an Oct. 11 email from Richie to County Judge Sam Barr that identified Mayfield as the official who allegedly made the comments.
“Last week, specifically Friday, Oct. 5, I was told that an elected official (the sheriff) referred to me as a f****t to two subordinates (Dana Bailey and Pam Webb) following a staff meeting earlier that week,” Richie writes in the email. “At the same time, Jack Deaton is alleged to have been called a mother-f*****g backstabbing something or other.”
Bailey is a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office and oversees day-to-day functions with the county’s 911 and central dispatch services. Webb is an office manager supervising administrative personnel.
Richie writes in his email to Barr that Bailey told Sam Ward about the comments shortly after they allegedly occurred. Ward has been hired by the county to oversee the transition of dispatch operations from the Eastern District Courthouse in Berryville to the Carroll County Law Enforcement Complex, which houses the sheriff’s office and the detention center.
Richie asked Ward about the comments during a telephone conversation on Friday, Oct. 5, according to the email.
“I asked what the sheriff supposedly called us,” Richie writes. “He told me about Jack but said nothing else. So I pressed on about what I was called. Sam hesitated, then he said f****t.
“I was speechless but mostly I was humiliated and angry … and still am,” Richie writes in the email.
Richie writes that he sent a text message to Webb, who responded that she had not heard the sheriff say those words.
“I guess Pam called the sheriff right afterwards because the next day he reached out to me via Facebook, giving me his cell number,” Richie writes. “I did not want to talk to him.”
Richie spoke with Bailey on Sunday, (Oct. 7), according to the email.
“She swore that what she described to be the sheriff’s words were true … that she swore to it,” Richie writes. “For what it is worth, she offered to take a lie detector test.”
Richie writes that he texted Mayfield and asked him whether he had made the alleged comments to describe Richie and Deaton.
“He wrote back, saying absolutely not,” Richie writes.
“What is clear is that someone is lying — and in it all I have been disparaged by an ugly, insidious word.”
Bailey’s husband, Mark, is the Democratic nominee for sheriff in the Nov. 6 general election. Mayfield, also a Democrat, is not seeking a third term in office.
Mark Bailey is a sergeant with the CCSO and also serves as police chief in Alpena.
“I have no idea what Dana has to gain since the sheriff is history on 12/31,” Richie writes in his email. “Saying the sheriff made bigoted comments won’t help her husband’s campaign. She runs the risk of being fired, but if she is she can file a grievance that would be discussed publicly by the Quorum Court. So, why would she lie?”
Richie writes that he took the matter to the Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office “for advice on what to do.” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Allgood advised Richie that “it was a political and personal matter and they wouldn’t get involved,” Richie’s email says.
In his email, Richie asks if Barr wants to investigate the issue: “… (M)aybe call everyone in together?”
“I don’t know who is lying and who is telling the truth anymore,” Richie writes. “But the sheriff and Dana cannot both be telling the absolute truth. Maybe this just needs to be brought out in the open and made public like all cases involving bigotry should be.
“All I know for sure is this is one awful way to be ending 8 years on the Quorum Court, eight years of donating hundreds upon hundreds of hours trying to make things work better.”
Dana Bailey declined to comment on Tuesday. Mayfield also declined to comment, saying that Richie’s email to Barr accurately described his response to the allegations.
“I don’t have anything more to say about that,” he said. “My statement’s in there. He repeated me.”
Deaton said Wednesday afternoon that he is accustomed to criticism and even name-calling as a longtime public servant. But the alleged remarks about Richie are a different matter, he said.
“In my position over the years, I’ve been called worse,” he said. “But it’s different with Lamont. In this day and age, that’s actually breaking the law.”
Deaton said he sympathizes with Richie.
“I’ve worked with Lamont for a long time, and I have a lot of respect for him,” Deaton said. “This has really affected him.”
CCSO Chief Deputy Maj. George Frye said he learned of the allegations several days afterward.
“I am aware of an allegation that disparaging comments were made by the sheriff toward a JP,” Frye said. “These comments allegedly were made after a meeting that I attended. I wasn’t present when the comments were allegedly made, nor did I hear them, nor was I aware of them until several days later.”
At Monday’s quorum court meeting, Richie addressed the issue by reading a prepared statement during the segment reserved for JPs’ comments.
“When a straight person refers to a gay man as a f****t … there is no doubt about what is meant,” Richie said. “It’s more than an insult. It’s a judgment call about that person’s right to exist at all.”
Richie went on to say he had been “humiliated and degraded.”
Richie, a Democrat from Eureka Springs, is not seeking re-election in November. He is completing his fourth term on the quorum court.