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Deputy: Sheriff Initiated Sex Assault Probe

“I Never Filed A Complaint”



The former Richmond sheriff's deputy who was fired last week after a brief probe into her sexual assault allegations against Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody says she did not initiate the investigation.

Personally recruited by Woody to join the department after his 2005 election, Sgt. Anita Willoughby says she kept quiet about the alleged November 2008 assault for nearly a year.

It was only during what Willoughby says was a confidential meeting with the office's human resources director about an unrelated issue that she disclosed that she had been allegedly assaulted by a ranking department official. Willoughby says she did not tell Billie Windsor during the September meeting who the alleged official was, and asked Windsor to “keep it confidential” and not to pursue the matter because she feared reprisal.

“I never filed a complaint,” Willoughby says. Despite her request for confidentiality, Willoughby says. Windsor took the issue to Woody, Willoughby says, who then initiated the investigation.

Willoughby is now the subject of a separate investigation, according to sheriff's office statements last week. She was fired last Tuesday morning when she arrived for work, Willoughby says.

The nature of the investigation into Willoughby remains unclear, though a sheriff's spokesman has said it is being conducted jointly with the city's human resources office. A city spokesman denies that. On Monday, sheriff's office spokesman Jerry Baldwin declined comment on the investigation, the assault claims or any related matters regarding Willoughby.

“Any questions related to this case should be directed to the office of the special prosecutor assigned to investigate the allegation,” Baldwin replied in an e-mail.

Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert declined last month to charge the sheriff after an investigation, citing a lack of evidence. Woody and Willoughby were both interviewed by Virginia State Police for that investigation, but it's unclear if anyone else was interviewed.

In at least one news interview following his decision, Ebert characterized Willoughby as a witness who lacked credibility. Ebert didn't respond to repeated calls and e-mails from Style Weekly seeking comment by press time Monday.

When the investigation was first initiated, Willoughby says Windsor told her that the department would follow its established procedure in investigating the matter, and would administer a lie-detector test to both she and Woody.

“Why wasn't I given a polygraph? I asked Windsor that [Tuesday] when she fired me,” says Willoughby, whose career prior to the Richmond Sheriff's Office included time with the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Department of Correctional Education.

“This man can put his hands on you, then he can fire you and then he can ruin your life with an investigation,” says Willoughby, discouraged by Ebert's quick dismissal of the case. She is now exploring the possibility of filing a civil lawsuit against Woody, and says she has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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