Howard County Sheriff Refuses to Step Down Despite Discrimination Claims

Sheriff James F. Fitzgerald is accused of making derogatory comments about African Americans, women and Jews

Howard County Sheriff James F. Fitzgerald says he will not resign despite accusations that he has discriminated against his employees and created a hostile work environment.

At a news conference Thursday, Fitzgerald apologized for "the the atmosphere that has been created for the last week or so for accusations which have been directed at me during my time as the sheriff."

A recent investigation by the county's Office of Human Rights determined that a former sheriff's lieutenant was "subjected to a severe and pervasive workplace environment'' for not supporting Fitzgerald's political campaign.

Fitzgerald is also accused of making derogatory comments about African Americans, women and Jews.

The report states Fitzgerald used the "n-word" and once told an employee: "African-American deputies are not too smart, but they get the job done," according to The Baltimore Sun.

"I'm disappointed because of this scathing report about this sheriff's behavior of harassment and discrimination and racism, and there's just no place for it," said resident Paige Getty, who was part of a protest outside the sheriff's office Thursday.

The report also said Fitzgerald allegedly told someone, "I voted for your boy Obama."

"I can say that the report has been humbling, hurtful, and disappointing to all involved. It has caused me to reflect on what is important to my family, our community, and the men and women deputies that I have served with at the sheriff's office," Fitzgerald said Thursday.

County Executive Allan Kittleman asked Fitzgerald to resign last week.

Fitzgerald did not confirm or deny any of the allegations against him and made it clear that he will not resign.

"My wife and I raised our family here, and my service to the community is evident as I choose a law enforcement career as a police officer and then as your sheriff. I will continue to serve the residents of Howard County. I hope that you all will help me, as I do the job I was elected to do," Fitzgerald said.

To read Fitzgerald's complete statment, visit this page.

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