LCSO Hires FWC Captain Despite Sexual Harassment Allegations

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By: Andy Alcock

Tallahassee, FL - He was under investigation for sexual harassment when he chose to resign from a state job.

The Leon County Sheriff's Office knew Dennis Tate resigned under fire and then hired him.

"Let's go somewhere and you can show me how you ride cowboys and I can show you how I buck tomboys."

That e-mail is one of multiple messages Captain Dennis Tate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sent to a female subordinate.

It was part of an investigation against Tate in 2005.

According to records obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News, an investigator confronted Tate with a sexual harassment charge from that female.

Tate was advised the investigation could continue or he could resign.

Tate resigned immediately.

Human Resources expert Joyce Chastain says these types of incidents make it difficult to get new jobs.

"If it's learned that someone is not eligible for rehire in a former position, it would definitely be a red flag for a new position," said Chastain.

Tate was found in violation of Fish and Wildlife's computer policy for sending sexually explicit e-mails on his taxpayer funded equipment while at work.

Documents go on to say the woman's complaint against him may constitute sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

It also says Tate may have made inappropriate comments to three other female employees, including one he said "needed a spanking".

But that part of the investigation was dropped due to his resignation.

And the sexual harassment charge was not sustained.

A few months later, Tate applied for a job with the Leon County Sheriff's Office where he'd previously worked.

He landed a job as a bailiff.

We asked LCSO's Major Alan Griner about that hire.

"Just because someone makes a mistake, how long do you hold that against them?" said Griner.

Records show the sheriff's office knew about Tate's Fish and Wildlife issue.

The complaint caught the attention of LCSO's Human Resources Manager Joe McCabe.

In an e-mail to Scott Bakotic, McCabe wrote, "I know Major Wood was wanting to get him processed ASAP, but I wanted everyone to be aware of his background and the actual details."

Bakotic replied, "He knows it all. Mr. Tate wasn't fired for any type of sexual harassment. It was for misuse of his computer. I placed the file back in your box. I guess we proceed."

Within two years, Tate was promoted from a bailiff to Internal Affairs.

The duties of that job included investigating sexual harassment complaints.

It's the same Dennis Tate who wrote an e-mail to a female subordinate at Fish and Wildlife, "I'll be straightforward, give me some time alone with you and I'll make it worth your while."

"He has been an exemplary employee, he has done a great job for this agency, he has done a great job for this community," said Griner.

Tate received his second promotion since returning to LCSO in June when he was made a uniform patrol sergeant.

Tate denied multiple requests for an interview.

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