2018 Top News Story #5: Mayfield’s slur, fallout make news in 2018

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Carroll County News

Then-Carroll County Sheriff Randy Mayfield found himself in hot water late in 2018 after he was caught on camera using a homophobic slur to describe District 3 Justice of the Peace Lamont Richie.

The sheriff’s slur — and the fallout that included Richie’s resignation from the Carroll County Quorum Court and the firing of the sheriff’s chief deputy — was voted the No. 5 local news story of 2018 by the Carroll County News editorial staff.

The slur first became public at the quorum court’s Oct. 15 meeting, when 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, 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.

The next day, 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.

Richie writes that he texted Mayfield and asked him whether he had made the alleged comments.

“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.”

Mayfield initially declined to comment, but on Oct. 22, he admitted he used the slur in reference to Richie. In a written statement, Mayfield wrote that he used the slur during a “momentary loss of professionalism.” He also issued an apology.

Mayfield released his statement after Carroll County Newspapers requested a copy of video footage from a security camera outside a meeting room at the Carroll County Law Enforcement Complex where the sheriff made his remarks.

Although portions of the audio from the footage are difficult to understand clearly, Mayfield can be heard plainly using the homophobic slur.

After learning of the details of the video footage, Richie said Mayfield “needs to go.”

Instead, Richie announced his own resignation from the quorum court on Oct. 30. In his resignation letter, Richie referred to Mayfield’s comments and also wrote that several sheriff’s office personnel, including Chief Deputy Maj. George Frye, had contacted him privately “disavowing and condemning the mindset” that led to Mayfield’s remarks.

The controversy continued on Nov. 5, when Mayfield abruptly fired Frye, who had served as chief deputy since the beginning of Mayfield’s time as sheriff.

The firing came on Frye’s first day at work after a weeklong vacation and less than a week after Richie’s resignation.

Asked if he thought the firing was related to his own difficulties with Mayfield, Richie said: “That was my first thought.”

Mayfield did not seek re-election in the November general election. His final day in office was Monday, Dec. 31.

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