Jury: Women discriminated against during sheriff promotion - WRBL

Jury: Women discriminated against during Muscogee sheriff promotion

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

After more than 20 hours deliberating, the jury finally reached a verdict in the discrimination case against John Darr and the city of Columbus. The jury found that Sheriff Darr did discriminate against two women were claim they were passed over for a promotion. However, the jury did not award any financial damages.

Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr testified in court during the hearings. In July of 2011, Darr promoted two other women and a man for promotions. During that promotion ceremony, Darr explained the department's promotional policy to News 3.

"Because just like every promotion we do within the sheriff's department, we're trying to pick the best qualified person regardless of whether it's male or female," Darr said at the time.

Juror number 8, who didn't want to be identified by name, said the verdict was a compromise for the 7 men and 5 women jurors. She said they were stuck in a 9 to 3 standoff with most jurors leading towards finding Darr responsible for discriminatory practices so they made a compromised decision.

Lieutenant Donna Tompkins and Lieutenant Joan Wynn filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Darr after they claimed a less qualified individual, Lieutenant Charles Sharer, was promoted over them to captain in 2010.

Juror number 8 walks us through the jury room deliberations.

"It was very tense. A lot of emotions going on. But everybody got along well. It was a good group of people, but a lot of people had their opinions about things," said Juror number 8.

She said she was in favor of awarding the women back pay.

Sheriff Darr responded to the verdict on his facebook page.

"It has been a difficult couple of weeks because I know that in my heart and mind that gender was NOT a factor in the promotion involved in this case or in any other decision I have made since taking office. However, I have strong respect for the jury system. I know that the jury worked long and hard to reach their decision, and I thank them for their time and effort. I am pleased the jury decided not to award compensatory or punitive damages and that we can put the case behind us. I can assure the men and women of this community that gender is NOT and NEVER WILL be a factor for me. "

This story comes in part from our media partner the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Ledger-Enquirer's Chuck Williams has been live tweeting from the courtroom. You can monitor his feed from this page for updates.

James Brierton

James joined WRBL News 3 with experience from CNN, NBC News and his own hyper-local news site. He manages the WRBL News 3 Web desk. More>>

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