Court Cases I WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Judge: Tallahassee Firefighter Deserves Job Back

By: Lanetra Bennett; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Lanetra Bennett; Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED
December 20, 2013

Tallahassee city attorney Lew Shelley says he intends to appeal a judge's reinstatement order to the First District Court of Appeals.

Shelley said, "We are always concerned that our police and firefighters meet the highest standard of care and we think that's an issue in this case."


UPDATED
December 18, 2013
By Julie Montanaro

A judge has ordered the City of Tallahassee to re-hire a firefighter - who was fired in the wake of sex abuse charges.

Brandon Colaire was fired in February 2011 after his arrest for child molestation. The teen victim later recanted her story and a judge acquitted him.

An arbitrator ruled Colaire should get his job back with back pay and benefits, but the city appealed it in court.

Judge Terry Lewis upheld the arbitrator's decision in a court ruling last week.

The Tallahassee city attorney's office is still reviewing the decision and attorneys will meet to discuss their next move on Friday.


UPDATED 4.12.2013
By Julie Montanaro

A Tallahassee firefighter cleared of child molestation charges could soon be getting his job back.

An arbitrator blasted the city for "rushing to judgement" the day it fired Brandon Colaire.

February 2011. Tallahassee firefighter Brandon Colaire was arrested and fired within 24 hours. He was accused of molesting two teenage girls ...

Fire Chief Cindy Dick faced our cameras the next day.

"It's clearly conduct unbecoming of any city employee, conduct unbecoming of anybody," Chief Dick said.

"In this situation, the city was very concerned about acting quickly in the public interest and that's why we proceeded as we did," assistant city attorney Cassandra Jackson said.

Colaire was aquitted of the molestation charges in 2012 after the teens recanted.

Now, an arbitrator has ruled Colaire should be reinstated with back pay and benefits.

He quotes one of the girls as saying "It was all a lie," and the other as saying she just wanted him "out of the house."

The arbitrator blasted the city for rushing to judgment.

Arbitrator Thomas Young III called Colaire's firing "arbitrary and capricious."

He says the city never did its own investigation and never allowed Colaire to tell his side of the story until the arbitration hearing in February 2013. That's nearly two years after his arrest.

The assistant city attorney insists Colaire was treated fairly ... and says the city relied on the sheriff's office report and a letter of apology Colaire wrote to make its decision.

"We relied on the sworn testimony that was provided in the criminal investigation to come to our conclusion," Jackson said.

The city is planning to meet with the fire chief next week to decide whether to follow the arbitrator's decision - or appeal it.

"The parties tend to follow the instructions provided by the arbitrator."

Is that what we can expect here?

"Well, we don't know."

We spoke with Brandon Colaire's attorney. Carolyn Cummings says Colaire has no comment right now and neither does she.

We'll let you know what city leaders decide about his job next week.


UPDATED 4.11.2013 by Julie Montanaro

A Tallahasee firefighter - fired in the wake of child sex abuse charges - could soon be getting his job back.

An arbitrator ruled today that Brandon Colaire's firing was "arbitrary and capricious."

The arbitrator said Colaire should get his job back with two years of back pay and benefits.

Colaire was fired in February 2011 after his arrest for child molestation. The teen victim later recanted her story and a judge acquitted him.

City Attorney Lew Shelley says the city now has 30 days to decide what to do next.


UPDATED 5.10.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A former Tallahassee firefighter accused of molesting a young girl was cleared of those charges in court today.

Brandon Colaire was arrested in February 2011 and accused of fondling a 13 year old girl.

Today the girl took the stand and recanted.

Attorneys say she testified she was mad at Colaire because he did not like her boyfriend.

The judge acquitted Colaire and sent the jury home

"He was very excited. He has been maintaining all along that he didn't do this. He said he's been in prayer and God answered his prayer by bringing the truth forward," said defense attorney Barbara Hobbs. "He's very ecstatic to be exonerated."

Colaire was fired from his job as a firefighter with the City of Tallahassee soon after his arrest.

Hobbs is not sure if Colaire will try to get his job back. She says another attorney is handling that dispute.

Prosecutor Stefani Walters said, "We did everything we could. Obviously we are disappointed when a case like this ends this way."
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UPDATED 3.21.2012 by Julie Montanaro

Now-fired firefighter Brandon Colaire was slated to stand trial this week for molesting two young girls.

Court records show his trial has been delayed for a second time.

It is now set for April 2nd.

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UPDATED 2-18

Community members are still in shock as a Tallahassee firefighter goes from hero to disgrace in their eyes.

As we first reported Thursday night, Brandon Colaire has been fired from the fire department after being charged with fondling a young girl and her sister.

Tallahassee Fire Chief Cindy Dick says Colaire's child fondling charges are a violation of those children, the fire department, and the community.

Those in the community, especially the ones who knew Colaire, say they agree.

The news is spreading like fire.

Community members can't believe a Tallahassee firefighter is charged with two counts of fondling a child from 12 to 16 years of age.

Tab Bush lives across the street from the house where 32-year-old Brandon Colaire used to live.

Bush said, "I am totally shocked and surprised because I never saw it in him. He just always appeared to be a family man. I knew that he worked at the fire department but I never connected it because I never would've imagined that it'd be him."

Colaire was arrested on Wednesday.

The arrest papers say a 13-year-old girl said he'd been fondling her since she was six, and said Colaire also fondled her sister, who is now 15.

The documents say Colaire admitted that he "intentionally touched" the girls.

Tallahassee resident John Lalonde said, It's frustrating number one because you put the public's trust in officers like that, police, firemen, and public officials. People like that, really in my honest opinion, are worthless."

Colaire was hired as a meter reader for the City of Tallahassee in 2004 and started working with the fire department in 2005.

The fire chief fired him Thursday.

Chief Cindy Dick said, "It makes me feel sad to think of anybody having this happen to them or doing this. Obviously, when it's a member of your own family, here in the fire department we are a family; it makes us sad but, we'll take swift and decisive action because it's just intolerable."

Neighbors say Colaire was quiet and kind.

Although, some say he did seem what they called "weird" sometimes but they say they just passed it off as a culture barrier because he has a west indies-type accent.

The arrest papers do say that the girls' mother admitted that she did know about the accusations but never witnessed them being sexually abused.

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UPDATE 2-17

WCTV spoke with Tallahassee Fire Chief Cindy Dick who tells us that Brandon Colaire has been terminated as of this evenings. Dick says based on the information in the probable cause affidavit, there was enough information to warrant termination.

Dick says Colaire has been with the City since June 2004, and came to the fire department in July of 2005. He was a meter reader before joining the TFD.

Dick says he has been an employee in good standing during his career at fire department, but adds, "It's intolerable behavior for any city employee, not to mention a firefighter."

Deputies say a 13-year-old girl reported to them Colaire molested her and had been doing so for years. According to the probable-cause affidavit, the girl also reported that Colaire touched her 15-year-old sister.

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Tallahassee, FL - A Tallahassee Firefighter is arrested...accused of molesting a child.

Brandon Colaire, 32, is in the Leon County jail, charged with two counts of fondling a child from 12 to 16 years of age.

We'll have more tonight on Eyewitness News.


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