A nearly 30-year veteran of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office in Bend, Oregon, has filed a $2.5 million federal lawsuit against the county, the sheriff, and two private investigators for alleged civil rights violations and retaliation.
In his lawsuit, Capt. Deron McMaster claims Sheriff Shane Nelson withheld evidence incriminating Nelson and his wife in an internal investigation into another deputy, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. The lawsuit also alleges Nelson retaliated against McMaster for speaking out about Nelson’s improper actions.
“Defendant Sheriff Nelson acted with evil motive or intent toward (McMaster) when Sheriff Nelson intentionally concealed damaging testimony given by his wife,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit stems from incidents involving a Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputy, his romantic partner, and a subordinate with whom he was having an affair. An internal investigation found McMaster failed to report suspected domestic and sexual abuse by the deputy against the romantic partner and that McMaster lied during the investigation.
McMaster maintains the allegations are false and said he reported the alleged abuse to the deputy’s supervisor and the Redmond Police Department. Nelson lives across the street from the deputy in question, and McMaster said Nelson’s wife, a former Bend police officer, was interviewed during the investigations. McMaster alleges Nelson tried to cover up his and his wife’s knowledge of the domestic abuse. When McMaster spoke out about the cover-up, he says Nelson retaliated against him.
“Nelson disputes the allegations made in this complaint and plans to vigorously defend the Sheriff’s Office against these allegations,” Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Jayson Janes told OPB. “No further information will be released due to the pending litigation.”
Internal turmoil under Nelson’s leadership has been an ongoing issue. Since 2015, the year Nelson was appointed sheriff, agency employees have filed at least 25 complaints against the sheriff and the agency.
The county has also paid out almost $3.5 million to defend and settle claims against Nelson and the sheriff’s office.
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