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Courts and Crime

Commissioners Recommend Removal Of Oxford County Sheriff From Office

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Patty Wight
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Maine Public
Oxford County Commissioners David Duguay (from left), Timothy Turner, Steven Merrill vote to file a complaint against Sheriff Wayne Gallant.

Oxford County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to file a formal complaint to remove Sheriff Wayne Gallant from office for inappropriate sexual conduct. The matter is now in the hands of Gov. Paul LePage.

After spending most of the day in executive session, the three commissioners convened in open session by midafternoon, when commissioner David Duguay promptly made a motion.

“To issue a complaint to the governor with respect to the sheriff in the form reviewed by the commissioners in executive session,” he said.

After Commissioner Steven Merrill seconded the motion, chair Timothy Turner asked for discussion.

“Not seeing any, I’ll call for a vote,” he said.

And with that, the three voted unanimously to file a complaint with LePage to remove Gallant from office.

The move comes two weeks after sexual allegations against Gallant came to light publicly. But the commissioners’ attorney Bryan Dench said the investigation began three weeks ago.

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Credit Patty Wight / Maine Public
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Maine Public
Bryan Dench

“My advice to the commissioners when these concerns first surfaced was to have it investigated independently so there could be no question that the commissioners had information — facts — that were reliable before they took any action,” he said.

The findings of that investigation, according to the complaint, are that Gallant sent lewd photos of himself to a female in another law enforcement agency while he was in uniform in county offices. He also allegedly sent indecent photos of himself and text messages that solicited sex acts and nude photos to subordinate employees, a subordinate officer and the officer’s female companion.

Those actions, according to the commissioners’ complaint, have undermined Gallant’s ability to lead a law enforcement agency and command the confidence and respect of the department and the public. The commissioners formally ask LePage to remove Gallant from office and appoint another sheriff for the remainder of the term.

Dench said that’s as far as the commissioners’ authority extends.

“So the process is now in the hands of the governor,” he said.

LePage did not immediately respond to the complaint. But on Monday, LePage said that if he received a complaint regarding Gallant, he would hold a hearing to determine whether to remove the sheriff.

Neither Gallant nor his attorney responded to requests for comment by airtime. Gallant has previously admitted to sending a lewd photo to another woman, but he has denied allegations that he solicited sex from employees.