PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Sheriffs Association is expected to decide Wednesday whether to begin a process that could see Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant ousted from its ranks.
The association will take up whether to begin removal proceedings against its former president a day after the commissioners of Oxford County recommended that Gov. Paul LePage remove Gallant from office for allegedly sexually harassing and propositioning employees, according to the professional group’s acting president.
“We’re meeting as an association to figure out where we go from here,” Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, the association’s acting president, told the Bangor Daily News.
In November, Gallant stepped down as head of the sheriffs association after admitting to sending a woman a photograph in which he was wearing his uniform but had his genitals exposed. Before the commissioners’ Tuesday decision, Gallant’s lawyer reportedly denied that the sheriff harassed employees or threatened to fire them over spurned sexual advances.
The association hasn’t had “whole lot of contact” with Gallant since the allegations came to public light and has not been helping pay his lawyer’s fees, Joyce said, adding that the group has not been privy to Oxford County’s internal investigation.
If there’s a will to remove Gallant, two sheriffs would be assigned to “look into the facts” before a group vote on whether he could remain a member, Joyce said.
The Cumberland County sheriff noted that the association has no official jurisdiction to investigate the allegations against Gallant, but seemed to take significance from the findings of Oxford County’s investigation.
“There’s obviously something there, and whatever’s there [the county commissioners] made a determination that it’s better for him not to remain sheriff,” Joyce said.
It is unclear whether the sheriffs association would play any role in the official removal proceedings that LePage may bring against Gallant, Joyce said, noting that there hasn’t been such an ouster in generations.
Since Tuesday afternoon, Gallant and his lawyer have not responded to requests for comment. An employee at the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that he is not taking calls.
Follow Jake Bleiberg at @JZBleiberg.
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