Five officers fired as sex scandal roils Tennessee police department

Five officers fired as sex scandal roils Tennessee police department

A Tennessee police department was in turmoil Tuesday following allegations that at least five of its male officers had sex with a female officer both on and off the job.

So far, five officers have been fired and three more have been suspended without pay as officials in the Nashville suburb of La Vergne investigate the allegations against the 60-person police department, Mayor Jason Cole said.

“This situation is unacceptable and as soon as it was brought to our attention it was immediately investigated and action was taken upon the individuals involved,” Cole said in a statement. “Our top priority moving forward will include rebuilding the public’s trust.”

The accounts of La Vergne police officers were in an internal report about the department’s investigation obtained by NBC affiliate WSMV of Nashville. The officers spoke about sharing cellphone photos of their genitals, having sex in the police station on duty and taking part in “Girls Gone Wild”-type parties.

“The actions of a few do not represent the department as a whole,” Police Chief Burrel “Chip” Davis said.

Davis said that despite the firings and suspensions, “we have sufficient staff to cover all of our patrol shifts.” He said counselors have been brought in to “help our officers work through these circumstances.”

Maegan Hall, the female officer at the center of the scandal, has been fired, city officials said. Also sacked were Sgt. Lewis Powell, Sgt. Henry Ty McGowan, Detective Seneca Shields and Officer Juan Lugo-Perez.

Officer Maegan Hall being sworn in by Chief Davis of the La Vergne Police Department in Tennessee on Aug. 19, 2021. (La Vergne Police Department)
Officer Maegan Hall being sworn in by Chief Davis of the La Vergne Police Department in Tennessee on Aug. 19, 2021. (La Vergne Police Department)

Officers Larry Holloday, Patrick Magliocco and Gavin Schoeberl have been suspended, they said.

NBC News tried to contact all the officers who were dismissed or suspended but got no response. In addition to violating departmental rules against having sex while on duty, they are accused of impeding the investigation by lying about their actions and engaging in “conduct unbecoming of an officer,” according to the investigative report.

None have been charged with crimes, city spokeswoman Anne Smith said. The Rutherford County district attorney’s office told WTVF-TV of Nashville that it was monitoring the situation.

Earlier, Police Sgt. Eric Staats, who is president of the department’s Fraternal Order of Police chapter, told news media that none of the officers would be making a statement.

Staats owns the houseboat on which a wild “hot tub” party was held last Memorial Day, where officers were drinking heavily and where, at one point, Hall lost her top and had vodka poured down her throat, according to the investigative report. Staats is not accused of any wrongdoing.

City officials launched an investigation Dec. 12 after a police sergeant informed Cole that Hall “was having intimate relationships” with fellow officers, according to a report obtained by WSMV that lays out what is alleged to have happened in graphic detail.

Under questioning, Powell, Magliocco, Holloday, Shields and Lugo-Perez all admitted to having had sex with Hall, the report states.

Hall also admitted having had sex with those officers and with McGowan, as well, the report says. She said she also shared nude images with Holloday, Magliocco, McGowan and Schoeberl.

Shields told city investigators that Hall performed oral sex on him in the police gym after initially having claimed, “I have never had sex with Maegan Hall,” the report says.

Powell also initially denied having had any sexual relationship with Hall, the report says. He later admitted in the report that he, too, engaged in oral sex with Hall on duty in a police substation.

Powell also admitted that as the investigation progressed, he and Hall compared notes in a failed bid to keep their tryst a secret from investigators.

“Powell confirmed that he and Hall met at Planet Fitness,” the report says. “Powell confirmed they discussed the investigation and Powell told Hall he denied all the allegations during his interview with HR.”

Magliocco told investigators that in addition to having sex with Hall, she also proposed “doing things” with him and his wife. Holloday also reported that Hall floated the idea of having a threesome with him and his “ex.”

Holloday and Magliocco expressed concern in the interviews about Hall’s heavy drinking and mental health, according to the report.

“Magliocco reported knowing that Hall unloaded her weapon and dry fired the gun at her head ‘so she could hear what it sounded like,’” the report says.

But Magliocco “admitted not reporting that to anybody” until Dec. 8, when, he said, he called Staats to relay “these concerns to leadership,” the report says.

McGowan revealed, in what the report described as contentious interviews with police brass, that he once went to Hall’s house with another female and exposed his genitals. He was also accused of trying to intimidate a city human resources assistant by grabbing her by the neck.

“McGowan claims it was playful however it was unwanted and an aggressive form of physical contact that is not permitted at work,” the report says.

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