Two Lakeland police officers fired as part of the fallout of a sex scandal want their jobs back

LAKELAND, Fla. - Two Lakeland police officers fired amid a department sex scandal have filed grievances and are fighting to get their jobs back.

David Woolverton and Rusty Longaberger, both former sergeants, do not agree with Chief Lisa Womack's decision to fire them.

In their grievances filed with LPD, both Woolverton and Longaberger state they do not believe there was just cause to support their firings.

Womack reviewed the grievances Tuesday, but declined to comment to media.  She has until August 16 to render her decision.

If the chief denies the grievances, then Woolverton and Longaberger will appeal to the City Manager Doug Thomas.

Both were fired on July 15 for conduct unbecoming, failure to report misconduct and neglect of duty, according to papers filed by Chief Womack.

Longaberger, 45, had been a Lakeland police officer since 1999. Woolverton, 38, had been with the department since 1992.

At least 10 officers are involved in the sex scandal that has already cost five officers their jobs. 

Sue Eberle, a civilian crime analyst, told the state attorney she had consensual and sometimes coerced sex with officers and a firefighter.  Eberle claims the trysts took place inside police stations, patrol cars, motels and and even in a parking lot after a memorial was held for a slain officer.  (See

Eberle's attorney David Linesch told ABC Action News he is appalled these officers want their jobs back.

"Outraged!" said Linesch.

He added that his clients thought he was kidding when he broke the news to her.

"They have a lot of brass to do this," Linesch said.

Eberle alleges that both fired officers forced her into having sex with them at various times.  The officers have denied those allegations.


On Monday, yet another member of the Citizen's Advisory Commission (CAC) resigned.  The CAC was formed by Mayor Gow Fields to help the city and department make it through this tough time.

The commission initially had 15 members.  However, before the first meeting, five members, most prominent leaders, resigned.

Now, Ana Rivera, the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County president, has resigned citing an expanding workload in organizing chamber events and health reasons.

"I've got so many things on my plate that when I saw what was ahead of us with the Advisory Panel, I found it's going to be a lot of work and I don't think physically I am prepared for it," said Rivera.

Mayor Fields plans to address the CAC and present Rivera's replacement at their upcoming meeting on Friday, August 2, at 3 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall.

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