Town Of Jackson Answers Former Cop’s Lawsuit Over Facebook Post
The Town of Jackson has answered a lawsuit put forth by a former cop who resigned over a Facebook post.
The Town of Jackson, through its attorney, filed an answer on Wednesday morning.
In the response, the Town of Jackson denies that Schultz was forced out after a Facebook post regarding an alleged sexual assault.
Specifically, the town denies that Schultz was "given no alternative choices or options other than to immediately resign" and that he was not given an opportunity to speak with an attorney.
Further, the town, through its response, denies that Town Administrator Larry Pardee texted a then-acting police chief and asked, "Why is this not done yet?" regarding Schultz's resignation.
The town also denies that Schultz was dismissed without being given a hearing or an investigation being conducted.
According to the response, the town of Jackson also denies:
- Schultz's constitutional rights were violated.
- Pardee is responsible for Schultz's termination
- An alleged violation of Schultz's rights have caused him damages not limited to financial damages resulting from lost past wages, lost future wages, lost benefits and lost retirement pay
- Schultz has suffered emotional harm, embarrassment, reputational harm and has been ostracized from the community of Jackson
- Schultz's alleged damages exceed $1 million
- A letter of grievance Schultz submitted to town officials was rejected by the town and that Schultz exhausted all remedies available to him prior to filing the lawsuit
Under the response, the town full-throatedly denied that Schultz was wrongfully terminated.
The town also claims qualified immunity, meaning town officials are shielded from liability when reasonably performing their duties.
Also under the response, the town claims that Schultz failed to notify the town of any statutory violations at the time they occurred, which prevented the town from taking any action to remedy them.
Finally, the town claims, "(Schultz's) employment was not terminated by (the town) but rather (Schultz) resigned."
Events leading to the lawsuit were set in motion last year when Schultz, who managed the town's police blotter Facebook page, seemingly joked about a reported sexual assault.
On August 13, 2020, at 12:26 p.m., we responded to a report of an underage female having sex with an adult. We will be investigating the case to determine if a crime has been committed and if we can prove that crime. You would think having sex with an underage juvenile would always be a crime. Not necessarily. There are a number of factors involved in deciding whether to file charges to include the age of those involved. Fortunately, determining the age difference of those involved doesn’t involve complex math, so we should be able to figure it out without too much trouble. Just as long as we have coffee and donuts (the ones with the little sprinkles on top) to get us through.
The post initially garnered lighthearted reactions, but it began receiving backlash following scrutiny in local media outlets. Many in the community claimed the case made light of a potential sexual assault.
But Schultz's attorneys say that wasn't the case and that the former lieutenant was making light of common police stereotypes.
The police department walked back the post and Pardee reportedly ordered Acting Police Chief Michelle Weber to issue a verbal reprimand to Schultz.
"This is a blatant misrepresentation of the self-deprecating nature of Plaintiff Schultz's blotter post and only served to further inflame the public response to this controversy," the complaint states. "A reasonable reading of the subject post reveals that Plaintiff Schultz was only commenting on a police officer's ability to do high math and their stereotyped affinity for donuts."