Heat continues to be on Mike Deatrick from Harrison County commissioners

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WHAS11.com

Posted on October 15, 2009 at 9:33 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 6:51 PM

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(WHAS11) - Controversy surrounding the Harrison County Sheriff's Department continues to grow.? A county commissioner submitted a letter calling for the Sheriff Mike Deatrick's resignation earlier this week.

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This is story that has drawn widespread interest.? Deatrick has become a polarizing figure in the community, but up until recently, county officials have not been willing to talk about it.? Now, not only is one county commissioner talking about it, but he's asking the sheriff to step down.

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"People have really lost confidence in him and they're ready to see him go.? Everything is opening Harrison County up to a lot of liability that we don't need to be involved in," said Terry Miller, a Harrison County Commissioner.

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In the past year, a number of allegations have surfaced against Sheriff Deatrick.? Those allegations include sexual harassment with two former employees and questions surrounding the death of another Harrision County Sheriffs Department employee, Christine Britton.

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Although her death was ruled an accidental shooting, some tell WHAS11 they believe there may be a connection between her death and the sexual harassment allegations.? In August, the Sheriff promoted his wife, Joyce Deatrick, from Jail Matron to Chief Deputy and hired his son, Darren Deatrick, as the new secretary of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

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"Some sheriff's employees sat down with us in an executive session and were telling us some things that were going on.? Up until that time it was basically rumors as far as we were concerned, but after somebody comes forward and makes accusations it's up to us to do something about it," says Miller.

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Miller's letter immediately hit the newsstands in Corydon.? Alan Stewart, a writer at the Corydon Democrat, says it's a story that has drawn more interest than any other.? The evidence is the seemingly never-ending stream of comments on the Corydon Democrat's website.

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"Just when you think it's over there's something that somebody says or somebody does that compounds the issue even more and it continues to drag on," says Stewart.

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Commissioner Miller is the only one of the three Harrison County Commissioners who signed the letter.? County Commissioners in Indiana do not have the authority to remove a Sheriff from office.? According to Indiana Code, a Sheriff can only be removed from office for a conviction of a felony while in office, for charging and collecting illegal fees for services, for refusal or neglect to perform official duties or for voluntary intoxication on duty or habitual intoxication.

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A special grand jury has been called to review the allegations of sexual harassment against Sheriff Deatrick.? The grand jury will meet at the end of this month.

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