Sorrento officers claim harassment by chief

Three Sorrento police officers have threatened to sue the town of Sorrento and its Police Department, alleging harassment and retaliation tactics by police Chief Earl Theriot.

An attorney for the three officers — Catherine Gil, Tige Scott and Kermit Givens — faxed a letter to town officials Saturday telling them the officers plan to appear at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting to discuss the allegations against the chief.

The letter was sent to Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. and the five members of the Town Council. Efforts to reach Longanecker and Theriot for comment Sunday were unsuccessful.

“At that time, we will move that the council go into executive session to fully hear and consider the sexual and racial discrimination and harassment claims and retaliatory employee claims against Police Chief Theriot” and others in the department and the town of Sorrento, wrote Harry L. Shoemaker III, the Baton Rouge attorney representing Gill, Scott and Givens.

Shoemaker said that his clients hope to reach a resolution in their claims.

“However, if we are unable to amicably resolve these claims at the November 13th council meeting, please be aware that this may be the last opportunity for amicable settlement before we have to move forward and file suit,” Shoemaker wrote.

The Town Council is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. at the Sorrento Town Hall.

“Officers Gil, Scott and Givens will all be present with me at the council meeting and will be available to discuss their claims directly with you and to answer any questions you may have,” Shoemaker wrote.

Councilman Randy Anny said the first time he heard about the letter was when he was called to comment on it Sunday.

“You’re catching me off guard with this one,” he said.

Later, after he said he talked to the other four council members, Anny said that “everybody is in the blind” pertaining to the allegations against Theriot.

Anny said he and other council members have been “trying to promote Sorrento in a positive way” and he was disappointed to hear about more negative allegations against the town’s Police Department.

Recently, the Police Department was the subject of a nearly two-month investigation by the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office into alleged criminal activity. Sheriff Jeff Wiley found no criminal activity and no charges were filed.

But Anny said that council will look into the allegations.

“We’re not going to stand for anybody being harassed, intimidated or discriminated against,” Anny said. “What we’ll do is we’ll get to the bottom of it. We’ll meet with whoever the attorney is, and we have no problem with that.”

Sorrento Town Hall will be closed Monday in observance of Veterans Day, but Anny said he would make sure Shoemaker and the officers are put on a revised agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.