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.

-----------------------------------------------
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.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

-----------------------------------

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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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on May 11, 2012 at 10:28 AM
    What happened to innocent until proven guilty? If you personally knew this family you wouldn't be so quick to judge. They are an honest, humble family who had a rebellious teen that lied, which she admitted to lying on the stand yesterday. Read the affidavit carefully and you will see that he said he may have accidentally brushed his arm on her. Haven't you ever accidentally done something similar? That does not make you a child molester. Why is it we so easily believe the child's initial accusation but later refuse to believe her admitting to lying? Have you ever had a teenager lie to get their own way? They do not realize the ramifications a lie can have. The entire family has been through the worst. Please let them be. Justice has been served - the judge threw out the case.
    • reply
      by Harriet on May 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM in reply to Anonymous
      If you read the first part of the affidavit it says that he admitted to his wife that he touched the girls and didn't know why. It also goes on to say that he intentionally touched the girls. He's been acquitted, nothing left to do. But for me personally, it seems awfully suspicious that he admitted it to his wife and the police, and now the girl is recanting her story.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 12, 2012 at 06:58 AM in reply to Harriet
        Have you ever be interrogated by the police? They push to get what they want.
  • by Anonymous on May 11, 2012 at 08:23 AM
    Have any of you commenters actually read the probable cause affidavit attached to this article? Just skip the content and go to the last line. Where he ADMITS it. Nuff said
  • by Sarah on May 11, 2012 at 07:42 AM
    To all the people who posted comments about him getting his job, have you READ the attached affidavit, where HE clearly states that he had fondled the girls, and didn't know why??? Or the part where the MOTHER also states that he admitted to her that he had fondled both of them-and she further states that they were in counseling?? I don't care wether or not this girl recanted her story, it is OBVIOUSLY true that something went it, why else would he and his wife admit it??? Based on his confession to the fondling he should be charged and not acquitted, the child was propably coerced into recanting. The wife/mother should be ashamed of herself for continuing to be with this man and not protecting her OWN children. Really sad that a mother would choose a child molester over her own flesh and blood. I wonder how she can sleep in the same bed with him and every night. He needs to be locked up and the children placed with people who will protect them. Child molesters CANNOT be rehabilitated...........
    • reply
      by pllllllease on May 11, 2012 at 09:23 AM in reply to Sarah
      Do you know how many people falsely confess to crimes they never committed? Did you know that police beat people, threaten them, keep em in interrogation rooms for hours on end until they get that "confession." Another thing, who writes the confession? The police. What is the police interest? A conviction. Thus, do you think they write your exact words down? C'mon lady. Don't be so stupid and naive. A piece of paper that the cops wrote, i.e. an affidavit, is the 100% true. LOL. If that were true we wouldn't need a jury or a judge. That said, if you don't believe a word I said please read or watch Murder on a Sunday Morning; the Story of Brenton Butler.
      • reply
        by Really Now on May 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM in reply to pllllllease
        Are all affidavits written by the police? And if so, doesn't the suspect get to read the affidavit before signing it?
        • reply
          by Wondering on May 11, 2012 at 02:45 PM in reply to Really Now
          Good question: does the suspect get to read the affidavit and does he attest to the veracity of it or does the cop just write it and turn it in? My ignorance is showing sorry but actually I am happy to have a learning curve in this area! Thanks
    • reply
      by Sarah on May 14, 2012 at 09:27 AM in reply to Sarah
      I guess you have been in a interrogation room...things that make you go mmmmmmmmm..........Sorry but I wouldnt confess to something I didn't do-and yes he has to sign it
  • by What a joke Location: Tallahassee on May 11, 2012 at 07:34 AM
    According to the probably cause affidavit, he admitted to detectives that he inapprpriately touched the girls AND the girls' mother stated he admitted this to her as well. It sounds like he either did it or the whole family was lying.
  • by LegalWatcher Location: TLH on May 11, 2012 at 07:20 AM
    The prosecutor is disappointed when someone gets on the stand, is put under oath and decides to (finally) tell the truth? That little comment speaks volumes of what kind of "justice" Meggs' office seeks.
    • reply
      by Missie on May 11, 2012 at 08:34 AM in reply to LegalWatcher
      Yep! That's the Leon County State Attorney Injustice System for us. It's speaking loud. VOTE!!!!
  • by Jessica on May 11, 2012 at 06:55 AM
    I totally agree they all admitted it at first now they changing the story. Its more to that if the truth be told it was his daughter/Step daughter and they're trying not to make him look bad but its already proven that he did it. I've been following this case for a while and documents has proven that he committed the crime.
  • by ReallyNow on May 11, 2012 at 05:39 AM
    Tad bit confusing...previous stories stated that he admitted to molesting the girls. Did the reporters get something wrong, or did the girls recant due to a bit of coercion from someone?
  • by i know the story!! Location: Tallahassee on May 11, 2012 at 05:26 AM
    He admitted to the police officer that he touched them inappropriately, but his lawyer stated it was a breakdown of communication because he doesn't speak english very well. Yeah right; he speaks and understands english just fine. Even his wife now about the inappropriate touching of the girls, but man those lawyers are good. The mother got that girl to recant so they could get some money, and the lawyers worked this all the way to the court. He's a liar; his wife is a liar, and the victim is a liar. The City of Tallahassee did what it was supposed to do by the policies set in place. The evidence was overwhelming at the time, but like I stated before; those lawyers and all those other liars sure can manipulate a story for their financial benefit.
    • reply
      by ReallyNow on May 11, 2012 at 05:57 AM in reply to i know the story!!
      You are absolutely correct! I remember the original story as well, as I used to live in the same neighborhood as this family, so it became an item of interest to me.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 11, 2012 at 08:12 AM in reply to i know the story!!
      I know Chief Dick and know she would have NEVER terminated him without enough evidence to be certain he was guilty (or maybe his admission of guilt). If she had been at all uncertain, she would have suspended him until after the trial. Funny how attorneys and prosecuters can simplify things to the point of ridiculousness. Keep up the good work Chief!
  • by Alan on May 11, 2012 at 05:19 AM
    I am so furious with the quote from the prosecutor. She is "disappointed when a case ends this way." So the prosecutor would rather see an innocent man punished rather than justice. The prosecutor needs to be disbarred. When the prosecution finds out they have no grounds to prosecute, they need to have the case dismissed immediately and apologize, then, based on the evidence they have, file for prosecuting the person whose lies have ruined the live of the newly discovered victim.
    • reply
      by redneck on May 11, 2012 at 05:48 AM in reply to Alan
      Welcome to Leon County.
    • reply
      by Jake on May 11, 2012 at 06:15 AM in reply to Alan
      Justice in the courts equal dollars. You can buy them very cheap these days.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 11, 2012 at 07:00 AM in reply to Alan
      Why should an attorney be disbarred for having an opinion? I believe that her disappointment was not that that he was rightly acquitted, but that a witness would change their story once on the stand - after all this time.
      • reply
        by Missie on May 11, 2012 at 11:16 AM in reply to
        I'm certain the prosecutor knew she was going to recant her story. They were just covering themselves by taking it to trial in case of a lawsuit.
    • reply
      by Missie on May 11, 2012 at 07:28 AM in reply to Alan
      Alan, I can't agree more. The state prosecutors only care about winning at any cost. I know personally about two cases where two young men are currently in jail and the victim has changed her story some many times it's pathetic. She denied everything anything at first appearance in one case, but that they still are still prosecuting. Peter Williams has my vote.
  • by Vic on May 11, 2012 at 04:52 AM
    This is typical in so many of these false allegations. The investigtors should have been able to pick this up along the way. I hope she is severely punished for her lie. TFD should not have fired him until proven guilty. Once again the City of Tallahassee has to get out the check book and write out a large sum of money to someone they negligently handled. Time to fire Anita.
    • reply
      by WOW on May 11, 2012 at 07:09 AM in reply to Vic
      Well Vic I never thought I would say this about you....but I'm with you when you right friend! lol
    • reply
      by Missie on May 11, 2012 at 07:30 AM in reply to Vic
      Vic, it's this reason why the state won't drop cases. They are trying to cover their behinds in hopes that the defendant will take a plea so they can't sue.
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