Lakeland PD sex scandal forces long-time Captain John Thomason to retire

6:19 PM, Jul 10, 2013   |    comments
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Lakeland Police Captain John Thomason announced his retirement after being placed on administrative leave with a notice of intent to discipline and a recommendation of termination. Photo courtesy of
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Lakeland, FL -- The sex scandal at Lakeland Police Department has now claimed one of its most respected, high-ranking members of the force.

Captain John Thomason, well-liked by his co-workers, and at times the public face of the department, sent his letter of resignation to the police chief on Tuesday.

In fact, as the scandal started to unravel, the department chose Thomason as its point man. Now, he's its latest casualty.

"Unfortunately he's made a bad mistake and it has led to him retiring from the Lakeland Police Department," said Sgt. Gary Ross, a department spokesman.

See also: Woman at center of LPD sex scandal comes forward

On Tuesday, Thomason sent Chief Lisa Womack his letter of resignation, admitting he'd photographed his genitals using a cell phone belonging to Sue Eberle.

Eberle is the 37-year-old woman at the center of the department's sex scandal, accusing officers and supervisors of years of sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

Thomason said he was off-duty, but on department property at the time. The photo, say officials, was to be forwarded to a friend of Eberle's.

In his resignation letter, Thomason refers to the "human quality" that makes each person special, but "also a quality that can fail."

Thomason was informed he was under investigation and would likely be fired.

He decided instead to retire, preserving his benefits and his pension.

It is unlikely, however, he'll ever be able to work as a police officer again, say department officials.

"FDLE will review the case in its totality and because of the moral turpitude, the ethics involved, his standards will be pulled," said Sgt. Ross.

As the investigation widens, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was asked again about calls for his department to step in or perhaps even take over at Lakeland Police Department.

"If it's needed and appropriately asked for, we're here to help," said the sheriff, "but we're not here to meddle in other people's business."

In the meantime, the investigation at Lakeland P.D. is far from over. A source within the department tells WTSP 10 News to expect at least two more resignations, likely by the end of the week.

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