Susan Eberle (center) has reluctantly become the face of the sex scandal rocking the Lakeland Police department. With her husband Ed (left) clutching her hand for support, Eberle decided to go public, announcing through her attorney (right) that they had filed charges with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Florida Commission on Human rights.
Lakeland, Florida -- There's been a startling revelation in the Lakeland Police Department sex scandal.
The city hired a Public Relations firm to guide them through that shameful period, and has spent more than $100,000 in fees.
That, says the attorney for Sue Eberle, the woman at the center of the scandal, is "despicable'.
David Linesch, Eberle's lawyer, also called it shameful.
"I called it a mistake. I think they made a mistake," said Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs.
Mayor Wiggs says he and other city officials knew the department hired Public Relations firm Tucker Hall last summer to stay on legal message after deciding to fire Sue Eberle. But only recently were city officials told about the cost for those ongoing services.
"And then to have something like this dropped on us is very frustrating," said Wiggs.
The Mayor says he and his fellow commissioners were shocked to learn the city was spending what he calls a "fortune" to receive what he describes as very limited feedback.
It's understandable, says the Mayor, that some citizens would be outraged by it or to even question whether the city was spending all that money to cover something up.
"Folks have a right to ask those kinds of questions and we cannot dodge those kinds of questions," said Wiggs. "We ought to be doing things in a better fashion."
"This course of action is despicable," said Linesch, who wasted no time adding fuel to the speculative fire.
Eberle has filed a federal complaint, and will likely file a civil suit against Lakeland.
The fact the city would spend six figures on a public relations firm involving his client speaks volumes, says Linesch.
"She's continued to be a subject of character assassination by apparently, now we know, the city of Lakeland, the police department and their public relations firm," said Linesch.
Mayor Wiggs says he wants answers about this. He's called a meeting for Monday morning in Lakeland to get to the bottom of it.
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