Investigation underway into alleged sexual misconduct by Lakeland police officers, others

LAKELAND, Fla. - As many as 10 Lakeland police officers and others were involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a female civilian employee, according to a statement from the city.

The alleged misconduct includes high-ranking officers within the department.

"The conduct alleged is an embarrassment to all of the professional, hard working members of the police department and the City of Lakeland as a whole," said Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack in a press conference Wednesday morning.

According to City Manager Douglas Thomas, in early March 2013, the Lakeland Police Department was initially made aware of possible misconduct by a number of City of Lakeland employees during a due process disciplinary interview with a 13-year female employee. 

The employee confessed to inappropriate behavior with members of the police department, a member of the Lakeland Fire Department and other city employees during her 13 year tenure with the City of Lakeland.

Those employees named in the State Attorney's Office investigation, which is now complete, are:

Administrative Leave:
Captain John Thomason
Sgt. Rusty Lonaberger
Sgt. David Wolverton
LFD Fire Inspector David Bivens
Modified Duty Assignment:
Lt. Al Wilson
Sgt. Brian McNabb

The city says the employee started as an intern with the Lakeland Police Department when she was in high school, then worked for Risk Management and most recently was working in various departments within LPD.

Because of the potential scope and seriousness of the allegations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was contacted.  Based on the FDLE's findings, the Polk County State Attorney's Office began its own investigation and released its findings to the Lakeland Police Department on Tuesday.

The allegations also include nonconsensual contact between the female employee "a number of City of Lakeland employees, past and present."  Along with sexting, exchange of sexual comments, as well as sexual activity on and off duty.

The State Attorney's Office has concluded their investigation and says they will not be pressing any criminal charges against those involved; however, LPD says they are still gathering details and information as their investigation is ongoing.

While Chief Womack says the investigation is still ongoing, she wants the public to understand this is not a department wide issue.

"We have had employees who have engaged in conduct that is not appropriate," says Chief Womack.  "Not appropriate for our profession.  Not appropriate for this police department and they have been dealt with appropriately.  This is not a department of corruption, but a department of professionalism."



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