A Channel 4 I-Team investigation found two top directors and two female clerical workers in the state Department of Human Services accused of having sexual relations on a vacant floor of a state office building.
One director has been fired and the other put on administrative leave.
Investigative files obtained through an open records request show the state used surveillance cameras and recorded conversations to catch the employees.
The sexual relations all happened in DHS' headquarters in the Citizen's Plaza building in downtown Nashville, mostly on the vacant third floor, according to the investigative files.
Surveillance video obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team shows DHS program director Stanford Radford some time in December 2011.
The video only shows Radford entering a vacant storage room on the vacant third floor of the building and bringing in a chair.
Only this portion of the video was released during his disciplinary hearing, but DHS investigators said the entire video shows Radford engaged in oral sex with a female co-worker.
In the notes from Radford's investigative file, investigators indicate they told Radford what video they had, showed him the few seconds of video bringing in the chair, and Radford indicated nothing else needed to be shown.
In recordings from the disciplinary hearing, Radford did not deny the oral sex, and neither did the female co-worker.
But both said during their hearings that the sexual act was consensual, that it was not planned and it only happened once.
Both were fired after the hearings.
A spokeswoman for DHS confirmed a surveillance camera was placed in the storage room when investigators received information about sexual activities in the area.
The Channel 4 I-Team spoke to employment law specialist attorney Paz Haynes III to discuss the tactics used by DHS investigators.
"I wouldn't call it extreme. It's a strong move. Some say it would be an aggressive move. You have to remember the position these two (the DHS directors) individuals held," Haynes said.
In November 2011, the investigative files showed DHS director Ken Neal was seen by a DHS investigator walking around the vacant third floor with a female co-worker.
The investigative file showed an assistant commissioner had alerted DHS investigators to rumors that Neal was having sexual relations in the Citizen's Plaza building as well.
The investigative file showed all the conversations from Neal's DHS phone were recorded and evaluated by investigators.
A DHS spokeswoman said all calls in Neal's department are recorded for quality assurance.
In listening to the recorded conversations, investigators quickly learned Neal was discussing more than just work on his phone.
"I'm just thinking about you. I can't help myself," Neal said in the recorded conversation.
"Hey, I'm gonna try and come and at least get me a feel before I leave," the female co-worker said.
The investigators then learned that both the director and his co-worker were already aware of surveillance cameras on the third floor.
"Wherever it (the camera) is, that's where they watch?" Neal asked.
"(Yes). I don't know if it's certain parts of that floor or the entire floor. They've got plenty to go on, I mean, it is what it is," the co-worker said.
After the phone conversations were recorded, a DHS investigator called the woman in for questioning.
"So where did it happen on the third floor?" the DHS investigator asked.
"Honey, it was a playground. There were offices that had doors," the co-worker said.
The Channel 4 I-Team asked Haynes if all state employees should be concerned that their phone calls could be recorded.
"You have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but when you are using a state telephone line and using state premises to conduct personal business, you're losing a little bit of that privacy," Haynes said.
Despite what can be heard in the recorded conversations, both Neal and the female employee later denied any sexual activity occurred between them in the building.
A spokeswoman for DHS refused to answer questions on camera, but did send WSMV a statement.
"The department recognizes the seriousness of these actions. The actions of these few employees is not a reflection of the entire DHS team," said DHS spokeswoman Valisa Thompson.
Thompson also said that audio recordings may be used to ensure accuracy in investigations, but cameras are rarely used.
Both Neal and the female co-worker were put on administrative leave pending a final decision made by the state agency.
The third floor is now off limits to employees as renovations are under way.
Both Neal and Radford declined a request to do an interview through their attorney.
Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Friday, August 22 2014 5:55 PM EDT2014-08-22 21:55:26 GMT
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