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Pinellas County deputy fired for sending women inappropriate texts

One complainant described the messages as "unprofessional, creepy, and scary"
Covering Pinellas County
Posted at 10:04 AM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 15:35:26-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A patrol deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is out of a job after he sent inappropriate text messages to two women, according to a press release.

The sheriff's office says Brian Overton, 35, sent messages that were sexual in nature to two women he met during different investigations. One of the women met Overton during her father's death investigation and the other met him during a child abuse call.

"Deputy Overton's conduct was reprehensible and instead of honoring his oath to help others he tried to take advantage of women in vulnerable situations for self-serving sexual gratification," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. "Overton's conduct is inconsistent with how a deputy sheriff should conduct himself and he has forfeited the privilege of being a law enforcement officer."

According to the release, an initial investigation into Overton was opened on July 3, 2020, when the first woman complained about the unsolicited and unwelcome messages. The woman told the sheriff's office the initial texts Overton sent were related to her father's death investigation, but they quickly turned into personal messages with some being sexual in nature. The release says Overton regularly messaged the woman for days after the investigation, not related to his official duties. Overton admitted his behavior and was issued a Written Reprimand on August 8, the press release said.

The second investigation started when Overton was sent to a child abuse call on February 5, 2021. The release says after Overton completed the call he contacted the second woman to tell her the outcome of the investigation. The sheriff's office says Overton used an app that concealed his personal phone number and showed an alternate number. The day after the call, authorities say Overton used the app to contact the woman asking for more information related to the child abuse call. Authorities say he then sent a series of messages that included comments about the woman's body and appearance, as well as telling her he had a vasectomy.

The sheriff's office says the woman described the messages as being "unprofessional, creepy, and scary." She said she felt like she was being sexually harassed but was hesitant to report Overton's behavior over the fear of retribution and how it would affect her case.

Overton admitted to sending the messages. The sheriff's office says the Administrative Review Board found that Overton abused his position of authority and showed a pattern of being unable to practice self-restraint. Overton was fired effect Monday, May 17.

“I am not here to make excuses. Through intensive counseling, use of critical incident stress management resources, and my faith, I have come to know and reckon with how my conduct impacted others. In texting with Mrs. [redacted] and, before that, by calling and texting with Mrs. [redacted], I was looking for affirmation. I understand that these women were strangers who I was supposed to protect and serve. At the time, I was just thinking about me. I did not think about how my conduct would impact them. I know now that I made them feel uncomfortable, and that I likely changed the way that they view and rely on law enforcement. For that, I offer my deepest apologies and sincerest regrets.” — Brian Overton