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Williamson County deputy keeps job, retains rank despite sexual harassment complaints by six women

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FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) - Despite claims by six female employees in the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office that a deputy sexually harassed them, including touching them inappropriately and sending a sexual picture, the administration opted to keep him in the department and allow him to retain his rank.

News4 Investigates obtained the investigative file into the claims made against Sgt. Chris Gray, as well as the interviews with the six women and how Gray responded to them in a video.

The names of the women in the file have been redacted.

The accusations include Gray calling a woman a MILF (mother I’d like to f***) and making comments behind her back.

One woman claimed Gray grabbed her thigh, and responded to him by saying, “If you touch me like that again, you won’t have a hand left.”

Another woman said Gray commented on another woman in front of her, saying, “She’s not really my type because I like a little bit more meat on my bones to hold onto.”

One employee said when asked Gray how he was doing, he grazed her leg and said, “I was just thinking about you.”

Another employee claimed Gray discussed in front of her how his wife was requesting a sexual picture, stating, “(My wife) wants me to send a picture of my d*** to her.”

One woman told investigator Tameka Sanders, identified in the transcript as TS, that Gray sent her a picture of his penis and later apologized from being drunk.

News4 Investigates shared the entire case file, including the transcripts of the questioning of the women and Gary, with attorney Avi Kuman, who has represented several women in sexual harassment cases.

“What does it say that so many women came forward about this?” asked News4 Investigates.

“They corroborate each other’s allegations. It’s clear that they’re not coordinating,” Kuman said.

Gray responded to the claims in a July 1 meeting with an investigator, saying he wanted to clear his name but acknowledging that some of what he did was wrong.

“And that’s the only reason I came today because I was like, what in the hell did I do?” Gray said in the video recording of his questioning.

As to sending the picture of his penis, Gray admitted to sending it from his personal phone and stated that the female employee had also sent him a naked photo.

The woman, however, said the picture was “unsolicited” and denied sending Gray a naked photo of herself.

At one point, Gray admits that what he did to one of the women would probably get him terminated. The name of the woman is redacted.

“And I know I did wrong with (redacted), and you know, that’s probably enough to get me terminated right there.”

Gray also admits to some of what the women claim.

One woman described how a captain and Gray, “was talking about her breasts. They were interviewing her initially wearing a low cut shirt of something. And (Gray) and captain looked at each other. And Gray said something to the side of me. He was like, ‘G******, they’re big.’ And I was like, I just continued looking at the screen. It’s kind of one of those things where you just put your head forward and you’re like, ‘What the heck?’”

When questioned about the statement, Gray said, “And I was like … yeah, that’s gotta – you know – you’ve got to be advertising those big things out. But I don’t – I don’t – I didn’t think that was sexual harassment.”

But the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Gray had gone through four sexual harassment trainings in the past.

Gray repeatedly denied some of the women’s claims, including calling a woman a “MILF,” commenting on her butt and wanting to see her in yoga pants.

Throughout the interview with the investigator, Gray repeated comments on the fact that he wonders if he should resign, knowing that other men accused of sexual harassment lose their jobs.

Not all of the women said they were offended by Gray’s comments, saying they thought he was just trying to be funny, but admitted it was inappropriate for the workplace.

Several woman also stated they were afraid to come forward with their complaints given that Gray was a supervisor.

“Especially when it’s your direct supervisor and you don’t know that there’s other people that he’s doing it so you’re like, very hesitant to report things like that because it’s like you versus him. Who are they going to believe?” one woman asked.

Investigators found some of the women’s claims substantiated while others unsubstantiated, ultimately decided to suspend gray without pay for five days and required him to take additional harassment training.

The investigator wrote that termination was considered but noted that Gray passed a polygraph test and there were no previous complaints.

“This individual is still in his same position. What message does this send to these women?” asked News4 Investigates.

“I think it sends the message, we will tolerate a certain amount of sexual harassment,” Kuman said.

News4 Investigates repeatedly requested interviews with Gray and Sheriff Dusty Rhodes, but both the department spokeswoman and an attorney for the department denied them.

In an email, attorney Lisa Carson wrote, “The WCSO took corrective action calculated to end the conduct when issues were reported to it, and believes the actions taken effectively addressed the issue. It is our practice not to publicly discuss employee discipline and personnel matters.”

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Copyright 2020 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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