A Davidson County Sheriff’s Department investigation into a former deputy and inmate in Judge Casey Moreland’s court is raising questions about how much the judge knew about their relationship.
Moreland confirmed to the Channel 4 I-Team by phone that he saw some sort of sexual photograph of the two but did not contact police or the sheriff’s department.
A relationship between an inmate and a deputy is prohibited by the sheriff’s department, and if such a relationship is proven to have been sexual, it can lead to criminal charges.
Federal law reads that an inmate cannot consent to a sexual relationship with an authority figure, such as a deputy.
The inmate, Desiree Moss, is the first to admit that her relationship with Lucas Frawley raises eyebrows.
“We understand that our relationship is weird. We understand that it came out weird. But it is what it is," Moss said.
While Moss was in and out of Moreland’s court on drug charges, Frawley was the deputy who was specifically assigned to escort inmates in that courtroom.
"He (Frawley) took me to jail three or four times,” Moss said.
Moss was last in the Davidson County Jail on Nov. 21.
On Jan. 9, Frawley resigned from the sheriff’s office. Two weeks later, Frawley posted on social media that he and Moss were engaged.
At some point, a picture was posted online of the two reading, “Free and clear, and it feels so good.”
“Don’t you see that it looks a little questionable?” asked chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.
“I understand that it looks questionable,” Frawley said.
The I-Team also showed them what we had obtained: Facebook and text messages that Frawley and Moss admit they sent to two different people.
Moss wrote, “All that matters is that he is out and didn’t get charged.”
Frawley texted, “It’s all good. Got swept under the rug.”
"You say, ‘It's all good, got swept under the rug,’” Finley said.
"So that was my attempt with playing with the people who run that site,” Frawley answered.
The site Frawley is referring to is a blog criticizing the sheriff’s department.
The intention of the Facebook message and the text, both Frawley and Moss said, was to see if they would show up on the blog.
“Why send out that misinformation?” Finley asked.
"I thought it was pretty amusing,” Frawley said.
Frawley quickly learned that people in the courthouse weren’t amused.
Frawley said Judge Moreland was told about the rumors of their relationship.
"He (Moreland) basically came to me and told me about the rumors. And that was the extent of the conversation," Frawley said.
The sheriff’s department confirms they started their investigation into the relationship based on a tip by someone else, and a Metro Police Department spokeswoman said they have no investigation into Frawley.
Despite repeated requests by the I-Team, including one in court, Moreland had denied to answer our questions on camera.
But Moreland did tell the I-Team that he wasn’t just told about the rumors, but was shown a sexual photograph of Moss and Frawley.
Moreland said he told Frawley to resign, and when asked why he didn’t go to police, Moreland said he assumed Frawley would tell the sheriff’s department.
"The judge told you that you needed to resign. Is that true?” Finley asked Frawley.
"No,” Frawley said. “Casey Moreland is a good guy. I don't want to speak out against him. I would never. He's a great individual.”
And Frawley and Moss said there was nothing for Moreland to report. They said they had no relationship while they were in his court.
"Not while I was in custody. Not while I was in drug court,” Moss said.
Moss and Frawley did confirm they had a sexual fling before she was arrested and that they got engaged two weeks after he resigned, but claim that they have no romantic relationship in between.
"Doesn't that seem to be questionable timing?" Finley asked.
"You can call it strange all you want. But that's what it is," Frawley said.
The I-Team checked to see if a judge is required to report even an indication of a crime in his court, and all the state statute reads is that a judge must report a fellow attorney or judge if some kind of misconduct has occurred.
But the law also reads, “A judge shall require court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to act in a manner consistent with the judge’s obligations.”
Metro police confirm they did run a welfare check on the judge Thursday.
Eyewitnesses in court tell Channel 4 that Judge Casey Moreland was in his chambers early but rushed out, accompanied by a court officer.
His absence follows a series of Channel 4 I-Team investigations that began airing Tuesday. Click here to read more.
At around 9 a.m. Thursday, a Metro police spokeswoman confirmed that police received a call from someone concerned about Moreland’s welfare and they went to his home and found him fine.
Judge Gail Robinson confirms Moreland called him Wednesday to ask him to fill in for him Thursday.
It is unclear why the Judge was in his chambers early on a day that he asked a judge to fill in from him.
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