A Florida sheriff’s deputy was fired Monday for making unsolicited sexual advances to two women — including one whose father’s death was probed by the cop, department officials said.
Pinellas County Deputy Brian Overton, who joined the department in 2013, was terminated after two separate internal investigations found he had inappropriate contact with two women beginning last summer, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a statement.
The first probe was launched after a woman who met Overton during an investigation into her father’s death told authorities in July of unsolicited and unwelcome text messages from the deputy, Gualtieri said.
The initial messages were connected to the death investigation, but they soon contained comments from Overton that were “sexual in nature” and not related to his official duties.
Gualtieri said Overton had claimed he merely “wanted to help” the woman and never initiated physical contact between them, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
But the deputy later admitted in August to sending the sexually charged messages and was given a written reprimand, sheriff officials said.
A second investigation was launched in February after Overton responded to a child abuse call and later told a woman in a series of text messages that he previously had a vasectomy and made comments about her appearance, department officials said.
“During the complainant’s interview with investigators, the text message conversation was described as being unprofessional, creepy and scary,” sheriff officials said in a statement. “The complainant felt she was being sexually harassed and was hesitant to report the behavior because she was concerned of retribution and that it could potentially affect her case.”
Overton sent the second woman more than 30 text messages after he asked her if she had any animals in her home – which was an initial ruse to get her attention, Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times.
The woman was reportedly mired in a custody battle with her ex-husband at the time. Overton did not report the woman’s case to the Department of Children and Families until hours after his initial message.
“Deputy Overton’s conduct was reprehensible and instead of honoring his oath to help others, he tried to take advantage of women in vulnerable situations for self-serving sexual gratification,” Gualtieri said. “Overton’s conduct is inconsistent with how a deputy sheriff should conduct himself and he has forfeited the privilege of being a law enforcement officer.”
Overton later admitted the text messages sent to the second woman didn’t serve an investigative purpose and that he solely hoped to make a personal connection by sending them.
Overton also confessed to regularly passing out business cards to women he met during the course of his duties in hopes that the encounters would lead to sex. He even shared photos of himself in uniform while trying to make the connections, Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times.
“This is a predator,” the sheriff told the newspaper. “He’s using the sheriff’s office, as a deputy, as his playground for sexual escapades. It’s a terrible situation.”