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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Former interim police chief Rod Shoap files $200,000 lawsuit against Crossville and Jesse Kerley

Former interim police chief Rod Shoap's federal lawsuit names the city of Crossville and Jesse Kerley as defendants in the suit filed last week over employment practices.

The city and Kerley have 21 days to respond to the suit.

The lawsuit claims Shoap suffered age discrimination, breach of contract as well as slander and libel.

Rod Shoap

The suit claims that then councilman Jesse Kerley approached Shoap with a list of improper demands and illegal demands “from the beginning of (Shoap's) employment.” Shoap believed that Kerley could affect his transition from interim chief to permanent police chief. And when Shoap refused to acquiesce to Kerley's demands, he threatened to email Shoap's supervisor, interim city manager Steve Hill, district attorney Bryant Dunaway, various other city council members claiming that Shoap was “insubordinate, ill equipped for the position and committing felonies.”

The lawsuit outlines a list of demands made by Mr. Kerley including investigation of director of schools Donald Andrews, an action out side of Shoap's jurisdiction. The suit states that Kerley made numerous demands for action against councilman Pete Souza alleging assault but “without having sufficient evidence or probable cause.” Kerley contacted DA Dunaway on the matter to have Shoap removed and charged with misconduct.
Jesse Kerley

The suit outlines a number of attempts by Mr. Kerley to have J. R. Blankenship arrested after he spoke at a council meeting and was charged with distributing unsigned fliers. Kerley sought to have Blankenship arrested and jailed several times including alleging his vehicle was not properly registered or insured when it was and seeking to have Blankenship's mother arrested for lying to police.

Shoap reportedly brought these action to interim manager Steve Hill as they arose, including his reasons for not complying with Kerley's demands. It is unknown if Hill ever addressed these issues with Kerley.
Steve Hill

Shoap's lawsuit alleges that he was originally hired by city manager David Rutherford who had offered Shoap the full time chief position shortly before Rutherford was fired by the city council. Shoap believed that the offer of employment would be honored by interim manager Hill but the hire date kept being delayed putting Shoap's employment status “in limbo for approximately six months.”

When Shoap resigned the interim position, he alleges that numerous defamatory statements were made about him alleging that Shoap resigned because he found out he was under investigation. Shoap said that he received a text message from Kerley stating so. In addition, Kerley repeated the same claim to local news media. A follow up story included a quote from interim manager Hill that there was no investigation.

Other claims made by Kerley against Shoap include allegations he had taken an guitar from police evidence for his personal use, allegations Shoap had an extramarital affair and shared that information with local media. The suit outlines allegations of Kerley's harassment of Shoap including references to “old men” and derogatory statements concerning his faith.

Shoap states that due to all of the reasons outlined he was forced to resign his position and even though he has applied for several positions, he remains unemployed. The suit also claims protection under the whistle-blower act of Tennessee relating to Kerley's orders to Shoap to commit alleged illegal acts.

The lawsuit seeks $200,000 in damages, that the city cease and desist in engaging in or facilitating discriminatory practices, that the city shall halt its employees from operating under the color of law and the defendants pay for attorney's fees and expenses as well as cost and fees in the matter.

City attorney Will Ridley is out of town at the time of this story but has been requested to comment on the matter. We also left a message for interim manager Steve Hill.  

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