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Extramarital Affairs News
7th November 2003
Highway Patrol investigation continues
KNOXVILLE - The investigation into allegations against
a Tennessee Highway Patrol Officer is continuing, even though the officer
retired Nov. 1.
The state’s investigation into allegations that Lt. Larry Parsley
clocked into work for THP, but actually pursued his own contracting business
on state time, will be ongoing for awhile yet, said Department of Safety
Internal Affairs Captain Larry Rucker. Meanwhile, troopers in two counties
have alleged that politics and favoritism, not competence and qualifications,
have played the biggest role in Governor Phil Bredesen’s top law
A Nashville trooper who claims to have worked for the
THP through three governors, including Bredesen, said, “This is
the most politically charged atmosphere I have ever seen.” While
he did decline to cite specifics he did say that many supervisors and
officers seem more intent on climbing the career ladder than pursuing
public safety issues. The trooper, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,
said Gov. Bredesen was the best governor Tennessee has had in 20 years
and that he [Bredesen] would not tolerate what was happening within the
department if he was aware of it.
Prior to the start of the state’s investigation
into allegations regarding Parsley, Captain Charles Laxton told The Knoxville
Journal that he had “worked long and hard” on the Governor’s
campaign prior to being appointed by the Governor to his current position
with the THP. Laxton has a signed photograph of Bredesen in his office.
When asked about how he got his Captain’s appointment, he briefly
described his work on the governor’s campaign.
According to the contents of Laxton’s personnel
file, Laxton bypassed the rank of lieutenant and went from the position
of sergeant directly to that of Captain. The Department of Safety did
not provide and his personnel file did not contain his performance evaluations
for the year 1998, 1999 and 2003 — years in which other officers
claim negative comments were made regarding his performance.
Staffers in the office, after paging through the file,
said, “Maybe they just got busy and didn’t do an evaluation
for those years.” According to several inside sources, the evaluations
co-incide with a complaint from a minister and his wife who discovered
Laxton engaged in some form of alleged sexual activity in a patrol car
behind a local church.
The minister’s wife complained, but an investigation
was never formally conducted, or, like the personnel evaluations, it was
never placed into Laxton’s permanent files. Both Laxton and the
woman were allegedly married to other spouses at the time. Laxton, whose
current wife, Cheryl Laxton, manages the Holiday Inn Express in Harriman,
is expected to be called as a witness in a Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) lawsuit against Blount County next year.
According to Former Blount County deputy Kathy Veal,
Cheryl and Charles Laxton both allowed THP officers and county deputies
to stay free in Holiday Inn Express hotel rooms during their shifts —
generally with female companions.
Officers, Veal claims, also utilized the hotel as a meeting
place for extramarital affairs and sexual liaisons while on-duty.
Veal claims she spent several nights and days at the
inn with Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp during a two-year relationship
she had with Crisp.
Prior to Crisp’s being appointed as Maryville Police
Chief, Crisp was Chief Deputy of the Blount County Sheriff’s department.
Laxton, she claims, had full knowledge of her relationship
with Crisp, who was married at the time, and of the on-duty meetings of
both THP officers and Blount County officers at the Holiday Inn.
Veal’s lawsuit against Blount County, Tony Crisp,
and Blount County Sheriff James Berrong is expected to be filed sometime
in November. Veal also has audio-tapes in which Laxton makes reference
to Veal’s having enough information “to blow that (Blount
County Sheriff’s) department wide open.” Laxton, Veal claims,
had knowledge of such activities such as Parsley’s construction
business and of extra-martial affairs of THP officers and deputies while
Law enforcement sources in various departments have expressed concern
about the direction the district is taking and the image of the THP in
Knoxville and the surrounding counties. Even though Parsley has retired
and other officers are under investigation, sources inside the department
have expressed concern about whether or not Gov. Bredesen will take any
action against Parsley or other officials once the investigation is completed.
They have also expressed concern over who the governor may appoint to
replace former Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director Larry Wallace.
“It’s all trickle down,” one officer
said. “They set the tone and let us know what the standards are.
And the standards now are strictly political.” The primary question
now, both among several TBI employees and some state troopers, is who
Gov. Bredesen will appoint to the post of Director for the TBI. Because
the TBI is often called in to investigate allegations against other law
enforcement agencies in instances such as Parsley’s, the “ethical
meter” of the director is a critical issue.
As required by statute, David Jennings, the deputy director
in charge of the TBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, will serve
as acting director, while a nominating commission considers Wallace’s
successor. According to TBI sources, Jennings is “clean,”
and doesn’t play political games. He is straight-forward and honest
and therefore not the kind of director a governor will generally choose,
“He won’t ‘play ball’ with anyone
if it’s dishonest,” law enforcement sources said. “He’s
honest. That high up they want someone who will bend.”
The nominating commission will consist of five people.
The Speakers of the Tennessee House and Senate each appoint two members.
The fifth member is the executive director of the District Attorneys General
Conference. The Governor will select a new director from the three names
submitted by the commission if he finds one of those names to be suitable.
Bredesen may also choose to reject all names and send the nominating commission
back to select additional names. The Governor’s appointee will complete
Wallace’s six-year term, which ends in seven months.