Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Cleared By Montana Human Rights Bureau in Case of Paige Pavalone V. TJ McDermott
The following is a press release from the Missoula County Sheriff's Office:
Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott, and the Missoula County Sheriff's Office has been fully cleared by the Montana Human Rights Bureau of any unlawful discrimination as alleged by former Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy Paige Pavalone, in the case, Paige Pavalone V. Terry McDermott.
As cited in the Final Investigative Report issued on March 11, 2016, Bureau Chief Marieke Beck states:
"After investigation, the Human Rights Bureau has found no reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred in the above referenced case. This determination is based on the investigator's recommendation." The decision continues: "The Bureau has issued a no reasonable cause finding in which it determined that the allegations of the complaint were not supported by a preponderance of the evidence."
The decision reiterated what Sheriff McDermott said during his announcement of running for sheriff:
"If elected sheriff, I will ensure that every member of the sheriff's office will exercise his or her duties in a manner that demonstrates respect, integrity and the highest level of commitment to professionalism and community service," McDermott said. "I will protect the rights of all citizens, bring justice to victims of crimes, and hold those accountable who are involved in criminal activity within our community."
The decision is in response to an incident from February 20, 2015, when a county detention officer, Angie Smith, was arrested for DUI, and Pavalone reportedly obstructed the DUI conviction of Smith.
After further investigation, the Prosecution Services Bureau found Pavalone "dishonest," and "not credible." Pavalone's termination was then decided by McDermott, as well as Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst and the Missoula County Human Resources Office. Pavalone was fired on April 13 of the same year.
However, Pavalone was led to believe that she was terminated because of her support for Undersheriff Josh Clark, in addition to her gender. The press release continues:
Yet, the internal investigation showed Pavalone had been dishonest about her conduct on the date in question. The letter stated the internal investigation revealed Pavalone had violated both MCSO and Missoula County employment policies, had acted with dishonesty and deceit, and had taken actions to obstruct justice during Smith's incident. Lastly, Pavalone's behavior amounted to potential criminal violations.
Click here for the final statement and decision from the Human Rights Bureau.