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Deputy fired for sexual harassment appeals to Superior Court
Claiming pauper status to reduce court fees

A 25-year veteran of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office who lost an appeal of his Jan. 31 firing in May that stemmed from sexual harassment complaints has appealed the county civil service board’s decision to uphold his termination.

Richard Holcomb, who held the rank of lieutenant at the time of his termination, appealed the board’s decision on June 9 to the Forsyth County Superior Court within the required 30 days from the civil service board’s May 11 decision.

He is now claiming pauper status — a designation indicating a party lacks the financial resources to pay all of the accrued court fees — to reduce court fees, said Steven Leibel, an attorney for the sheriff’s office.

Leibel previously told the Forsyth County News the sheriff’s office “is prepared to vigorously defend the Board’s decision in the event there are further legal proceedings.”

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

Mike Garrison, the investigator who oversaw the case, told the FCN that Internal Affairs was not notified of the incidents until January due to then-Sheriff Duane Piper determining in November there was not enough evidence to support the claim. Sheriff Ron Freeman took office in January.

Ultimately, the civil service board found Holcomb “violated the sheriff’s office policy concerning workplace harassment and duty to read/understand/comply with orders … as well as the remaining violations consisting of violation of law, conduct unbecoming — on/off duty conduct and professional image,” according to a letter to him dated May 11.

The case is being presided over by Chief Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley.