State attorney fires former Clay County sheriff

Scott Lancaster terminated after sexual harassment complaints

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – State Attorney Melissa Nelson fired former Clay County Sheriff Scott Lancaster from his job as an investigator, just months after he was hired.

Lancaster had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. 

In a letter obtained by News4Jax, Nelson told Lancaster on May 30 that after reviewing the allegations, she was terminating him. 

Lancaster, in a letter of resignation the following day, called the allegations “frivolous.”

According to the memorandum of the investigation into Lancaster, one female staffer said Lancaster told her "good morning beautiful" or "good morning gorgeous" to her on occasion. 

One time, the report said, he was talking to her on the phone, put her on speaker when another man was in the office, and asked “Are you covered up?" She said she was offended.

Another time, investigators said, Lancaster came into her office, saying, “I heard you looked good today, and wanted to see for myself.” The memorandum noted she was shaking, she was so upset.

According to the memorandum of the investigation, a woman who works for the company that provides private security for the office said Lancaster hugged her when he learned her mother had died, and asked if he could kiss her on the mouth. She said no. She said Lancaster regularly called her his girlfriend.

Another office staffer said Lancaster had a tendency to be a space invader, but didn’t do anything inappropriate.

Two other female staffers said Lancaster complimented them on their appearance, but they didn’t take any offense at it.

In the memorandum, Lancaster gave his side, saying he regularly compliments staffers -- men and women -- on their wardrobe. As for the comment “are you covered up,” he said that he meant was she too busy to talk.

Regarding the claim he asked to kiss the woman on the mouth, he denied it, saying he said something about there would be hugs and kisses from her mother again in the afterlife. He said that woman regularly calls him her boyfriend.

Lancaster said that he did not think he violated the State Attorney's Office sexual harassment policy, and that no one who made complaints ever said anything to him. He apologized if he offended anyone.

In 2014, Lancaster was defeated in a re-election bid by Rick Beseler. The defeat came on the heels of a scathing grand jury report that condemned Lancaster for using a county-issued credit card to make thousands of dollars in purchases for his own use, including alcoholic beverages, clothing and groceries.

The grand jury declined to indict Lancaster, though, and cleared him of 10 other allegations of misconduct. 

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