LARGO - Longtime Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Martin was fired today for making inappropriate comments to a minor during the course of a sexual battery investigation.
48-year-old Martin has worked for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office since August of 1988.
The incident that led to his termination took place in July of this year, when he was assigned to assist in an investigation into a sexual battery case involving a 17-year-old girl.
According to information provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Martin was overheard by the victim making comments regarding his off-duty lifestyle, which she described as "awkward". A memo issued Monday also details a graphic line of questioning which included the topics of anal sex and the question "are you into girls too," neither of which had anything to do with the alleged crime of sexual battery he was there to investigate.
"I was appalled, disgusted by it," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. "There's no reason for this. It was just totally inappropriate conduct on his part and I'm not going to tolerate it. I'm not going to have it."
Last month, the I-Team revealed that the sheriff's office had been investigating Martin for more than a year on an unrelated matter regarding an allegation that he improperly accessed a law enforcement database and provided information he received there to a girlfriend who was involved in a domestic civil case.
Five Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys sent a letter to Sheriff Gualtieri urging him to wrap up that investigation.
"The public will not have confidence in the sheriff's department with people like Paul Martin out there," said attorney Jerry Theophilopoulous.
At that time, Sheriff Robert Gualtieri confirmed that Martin was involved in a "swinger's" lifestyle, which he believes is what led to the prior complaint involving potential criminal activity.
"They're involved in this wife-swapping thing," Gualtieri said. "It's one person messing around with another person's wife. It's extracurricular activity outside the office. It's sex allegation. It's all this personal stuff."
Martin has a history of disciplinary problems at PCSO.
In recent years, Martin allegedly lied to supervisors, was involved in a battery incident involving his ex-wife and violated other departmental rules.
During investigations in 2011, he received 184 hours of suspensions related to those investigations.
Martin was terminated effective immediately. He now has five days to file an appeal if he wants to attempt to keep his job.