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Judge hears appeal of FCSO lieutenant’s termination

Last week, a Forsyth County judge heard arguments related to a Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant fired due to claims of sexual harassment, though no decision has yet been reached.

On Thursday, the Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley heard arguments on both sides of the case as Richard Holcomb, who held the rank of lieutenant at the time of his termination, appealed his firing and a May 2017 decision by the county’s civil service board to uphold his termination.

Bagley did not make a ruling on the case Thursday.

Holcomb’s January 2017 firing stemmed primarily from a November 2016 incident involving a female deputy and secondarily from a summer 2016 incident with a different female deputy.

Holcomb had worked for the sheriff’s office for nearly 26 years at the time of his firing.

Representing Holcomb on Tuesday was Logan Butler, while Paul Menair and Richard Neville represented the sheriff’s office and civil service board, respectively.

In 2016, Holcomb, who was working an off-duty job, allegedly asked an on-duty female deputy to meet near a business in south Forsyth.

While they gossiped about another female deputy — each in their own vehicle — Holcomb allegedly asked if she were interested in having casual sex.

Holcomb later used the agency’s internal messaging system to say he hoped she was not offended by the conversation but to let him know if she ever became interested.

During the course of the investigation, which began when Holcomb was placed on paid administrative leave, the female deputy who Holcomb and the complainant were allegedly gossiping about in November told investigators she, too, had a similar encounter with him last summer.

Among arguments between the sides on Tuesday were whether there was a violation of Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act, whether a workplace harassment policy was breached, due process was followed at the civil service board and a professional image policy was violated.

During the hearing, Bagley also asked his own questions to the attorneys following their presentations.

It was not immediately clear when Bagley’s decision will be made.