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Courts and Crime

Oxford County Sheriff Denies Sexual Misconduct Amid Investigation

The lawyer for Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant says Gallant denies any misconduct toward county employees in the wake of allegations raised by an agent of the union representing county employees.

Last week, Gallant admitted to sending sexually explicit photos of himself to a woman two years ago. The photos, which showed his genitals, were taken in his office while in his uniform.

On Friday, Ray Cote, a business agent for Teamsters Local 340, told the Portland Press Herald that Gallant solicited sex with a deputy and the deputy’s girlfriend and had sent several sexually explicit photos to the woman. Cote said Gallant also told a second male employee that he wanted to perform oral sex on him.

Gallant stepped down as president of the Maine Sheriffs Association, but has given no indication he will resign as sheriff. Cote told Portland TV station WCSH on Friday that with continued media coverage, there could be more allegations of misconduct by Gallant toward county employees.

“They’re scared. A lot of them are scared, and I think the more of this that comes out I think that people will gain courage and there will be more people that will come forward,” he says.

But Gallant’s attorney James Martemucci says the sheriff flatly denies any misconduct with employees.

“He does deny that, these latest allegations, he denies them. He feels they are clearly embellished and taken out of context and will respond much more appropriately, much more thoroughly at the right time,” he says.

Martemucci says the sheriff is aware that the Oxford County commissioners have hired a lawyer to investigate the allegations. Martemucci says he hopes the probe is conducted quickly, but said he has no input into that process. He says he’s concerned that the union made the allegations known to the media when an investigation was already underway.

“I am hearing things from the media just like many people in the public are, and I certainly have had some conversations with Sheriff Gallant. Those conversations are going to remain between me and him at this point,” he says.

Calls and emails to officials at the union were not returned. Whatever the county commissioner’s investigation shows, they don’t have the power to fire Gallant — the state constitution gives that authority only to the governor, who after a hearing on a complaint can remove a sheriff for not “faithfully or efficiently” performing his or her job.

No such complaint has been made, yet, to the governor. And even if one were delivered, this particular provision has never been used, so Gov. Paul LePage would have to figure out just how to implement it.

If history is any indication, whatever process is set up would likely face a court challenge.

This story was originally published Nov. 27, 2017 at 1:09 p.m. ET.