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Missouri sheriff’s affair with deputy led to dozens of cops resigning

August 4, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Missouri sheriff’s affair with deputy led to dozens of cops resigning

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Local county officials in the southern portion of Missouri are trying to pick up the pieces after an indictment was filed against a sheriff and a subordinate with whom he reportedly had a romantic relationship, resulting in the departure of dozens of sheriff’s department staffers.

Former Texas County Sheriff 48-year-old James Sigman, and Lieutenant Deputy Jennifer Tomaszewski, 38, were indicted in early July on charges such as assault, robbery, child endangerment, misuse of a weapon and harassment after complaints of shoddy police work and favoritism troubled the department and reached the county seat in Houston.

Court documents indicated that Sigman hired Tomaszewski as a jailer in 2016, which was approximately the same time they became romantically involved. Only seven months later, Tomaszewski was promoted to jail administrator of the facility, which led to complaints from both employees and inmates.

Luritta Baker, 57, was an employee at the jail for six years before she was fired for not making sure that an inmate took medication. However, Baker believes that the loss of her job had more to do with complaining about Tomaszewski and telling the sheriff she thought the younger woman was manipulating him.

“She didn’t like me because I knew what kind of person she was, and I called her,” Baker told the St. Louis Dispatch.

Carl Watson, who served as the county’s sheriff before Sigman, said the complaints and rumors related to the pair’s relationship should’ve been handled sooner.

“I hate to tell you what I think,” Watson stated. “What he’s done is not good for the county.”

Several employees in good standing had left the department because of the alleged conduct and worries of reprisal for speaking up, Watson added.

One of those employees, Rowdy Douglas, left earlier this year because of the “atmosphere,” he said.

“Everything seemed like it was smooth,” Douglas said. “Then it was like the wheels fell off.”

Douglas is back with the department as its interim sheriff until a special election will take place in November.

“We’ve lost trust with the community, that’s a given,” Douglas continued. “We’ll get it back. We gotta get our stuff squared away and get back out there and put people in jail.”

While employed at the jail, Tomaszewski struck a mentally disabled prisoner in the face with her elbows while he was unconscious and later told a corrections guard that she was attempting to “bust his eardrums out.” She also threatened to shoot another inmate.

Detectives believe that Tomaszewski also sported a deputy’s uniform while she wasn’t yet a licensed officer, helped apprehend suspects and played the role as “bait” during undercover operations carried out by the department. Tomaszewski also allegedly pointed a gun at several people, including a 1-year-old looking on at a crime scene.

Complaints by inmates ultimately led the county prosecutor to ask the Missouri Highway Patrol to launch a probe. That resulted in the arrest of Sigman and Tomaszewski, who was working as Sigman’s chief deputy.

Sigman, whose wife has filed for divorce, moved in with Tomaszewski last year. They’re now prohibited from communicating with each other as a condition of their release last week. Sigman fired back at the allegations against him and called them “bull—-.”

“It’ll all come out, that’s all I can tell you,” Sigman said.

Sigman is the first elected official to be charged with a crime in the County in over four decades.

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