A Lee County Sheriff’s deputy has been demoted and had his salary reduced after an internal affairs investigation found he harassed a co-worker.
Paul Walsh, who was a lieutenant, will now be a deputy first class. His salary will be reduced to $80,800 annually, according to an internal affairs investigation. It’s unclear how much he made previously.
Walsh will also be on disciplinary probation for six months and will be tasked with retraining on sexual harassment, interpersonal skills and communication.
The incident happened on Oct. 1 after Hurricane Ian. Walsh asked a deputy, who he had been flirting with, to go with him to pick up food for other deputies working at Hertz Arena, which was serving as a hurricane shelter.
Before arriving at headquarters, according to the investigation, Walsh stopped by his home to check if his power had returned.
According to the investigation, the deputy said Walsh asked her to have sex with him numerous times on their ride to his home, to the sheriff’s office and back to Hertz Arena.
The deputy said even though the two sent each other flirty messages, she felt like she had no control when she was in Walsh’s vehicle. She said she went on the drive with Walsh because she felt it was her “boss” asking her to ride along with him.
“Deputy [redacted] stated she has no concerns with messaging with Lieutenant Walsh because she could choose to respond or ignore him if she wanted to. She stated by him making her ride along with him force her into “a situation where I literally have no escape,” according to the report. “I don’t like that that makes me uncomfortable.”
Walsh told investigators that he was attempting to start a romantic relationship with the deputy and that the messaging was consensual. He also said he was not her direct supervisor so he did not believe it was a concern. He denied asking the deputy to have sex with him.
The investigation found he conducted himself in conduct unbecoming of a deputy and he sexually harassed the deputy.