Sorrento council discusses suit

A Sorrento police officer told the Town Council on Tuesday night that she was advised by the town’s mayor to file suit against the town.

When asked by a councilman who initiated talks of suing the town, Officer Cathy Gil, one of three Sorrento officers who met in executive session with the Town Council and Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. on Tuesday to discuss alleged “sexual and racial discrimination” by the police chief, replied, “the mayor.”

Harry Shoemaker III, the Baton Rouge attorney representing Gil and the two other Sorrento officers, Tige Scott and Kermit Givens, then advised Gil not to speak until the private executive session.

Longanecker said that if he was going to be accused of something, he would rather be accused publicly, but the complainants requested to meet privately and the council obliged.

The parties discussed the allegations against Police Chief Earl Theriot for approximately 30 minutes before returning.

Shoemaker said he would not make a statement, and all three officers declined to comment.

When asked to make a statement, Gil said, “No, I can’t.”

Town Attorney Donovan Hudson said he expected to receive more information regarding the allegations from Shoemaker this week, and he hopes to schedule another meeting to discuss the matter on Tuesday.

Councilman Randy Anny said Tuesday’s meeting was the latest in a line of embarrassing moments for the town, which has seen police officers terminated and its Police Department investigated for alleged criminal activity.

Wilson Longanecker Sr., a former Sorrento mayor and the father of the current mayor, said he believes the council is on a “witch hunt” against his son.

“When I was mayor, we never had these kinds of shenanigans,” he said.

At least one prominent Sorrento native has had enough of the drama in his hometown.

Former NBA player John “Hot Rod” Williams, who now lives in Gonzales but stays involved with his hometown because he has relatives who still live there, attended Tuesday’s meeting and said he’s tired of being embarrassed by what’s happening in Sorrento.

“It’s time to give this thing over to the parish and let (Ascension Parish President) Tommy Martinez handle it,” Williams said.

He’s not the first person to suggest that the town consider dissolving and becoming part of the parish again.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley recently suggested the same thing.

The mayor was asked about the possibility, and while he said his top priority was ending the fighting between town officials, he doesn’t think the residents are being provided with the basic goods and services they should be.

“Does it look like we are?” he said. “I mean, really, I don’t see how any citizen could say that we are.”