Portland Press Herald, Maine
Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant is being replaced as president of the Maine Sheriffs’ Association after a report that he sent a woman a sexually explicit photograph of himself in uniform inside his own office.
“The Maine Sheriffs do not condone the inappropriate actions of the Oxford County sheriff,” the association said in a statement issued Tuesday night. “Vice President Sheriff Kevin Joyce (of Cumberland County) will be acting president of the association.”
The association’s action came hours after Gallant admitted to a TV news station that he sent the sexually explicit photograph to a woman he did not identify.
WGME-TV reported Tuesday night that it confronted Gallant about a photo it “uncovered” and that he confirmed he is the person in the photograph and that it was taken in his office. Gallant, who was first elected in 2006 and is in his third four-year term as Oxford County sheriff, has served as president of the sheriffs’ association since January.
“I bring discredit to myself, to my uniform, my badge and the Maine Sheriff’s Association,” Gallant said in a written statement to the station. “The appropriate thing for me to do is not remain in a leadership position with the association and to step down.”
Gallant did not respond to messages left Tuesday night on his office telephone and cellphone.
The sheriffs’ association website was updated Tuesday night to show that he was no longer the group’s president.
Timothy Turner, chairman of the Oxford County Commissioners, said commissioners met with Gallant during a county budget meeting Tuesday night, but did not take any actions to discipline him. He said commissioners are aware of the situation.
“We as commissioners can’t do anything about it,” said Turner, who referred all questions to the county attorney, Bryan Dench of Lewiston.
WGME quoted the county attorney as saying that commissioners could file a report about the incident with the governor’s office, who has the authority to determine if a state statute was violated and if disciplinary action should be taken against Gallant.
It is not known how the TV station acquired the sexually explicit photograph of Gallant, but the station’s report comes amid a national outpouring of allegations of sexual misconduct against men that has reached the highest levels of the media, business, entertainment and politics.
The sheriffs’ association is a nonprofit organization whose mission, according to its website, is to “improve and professionalize the sheriff’s offices in Maine and to assure that call citizens receive the highest-quality law enforcement and jail services in an efficient, courteous and humane manner.”
Other sheriffs in the association expressed surprise when they were told about the WGME report and did not want to comment to the Press Herald until they learned more about the situation.
“This is unbelievable if it’s true,” York County Sheriff William L. King Jr. said Tuesday night. King serves as secretary of the association.
Past association president Joel Merry, the Sagadahoc County sheriff, also was surprised by the report.
“It’s news to most of us,” he said.
Joyce, the Cumberland County sheriff, said he was caught off guard by Gallant’s admission.
“I’m kind of shocked to be honest,” Joyce said Tuesday night after being told about the station’s report. “I don’t know what to say. This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
After being informed of the incident, Joyce polled other members of the sheriffs’ association’s executive board, which issued the statement that Joyce would become acting president.
Joyce said Gallant is well-respected in the law enforcement community.
“Wayne is an honorable guy and a military veteran, a take-care-of-business kind of guy,” Joyce said. “He is someone I admire.”
Gallant served in the Army during the Vietnam War, according to a profile posted Nov. 12 on the website of the Sun Journal in Lewiston. Gallant, who often volunteers at events for veterans, he had lived in Rumford all of his life before recently moving to Bethel.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:
©2017 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)
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