Braswell has said he could not comment due to the ongoing probe. He did not return several phone calls or responded to e-mails from South Florida Times seeking comment.
BSO has not confirmed it, but Braswell’s name and photograph was removed from BSO’s website today.
Asked about those reports, BSO Media Relations Director Jim Leljedal said in an e-mail, “The Reverend Braswell is a full-time employee.”
Several high-placed sources, however, said Braswell was given an option of resigning or face being fired.
Sources said, over the years, several employees had complained about Braswell’s alleged mistreatment of them, leading to investigations, whose outcome is not known. Some alleged that Braswell groped them during what they described as “hugging” sessions. Others presented e-mails to support their allegations of other inappropriate conduct.
The latest investigation began after an employee in the Chaplain’s Office filed a complaint. During the investigation, statements were taken from other workers and their allegations were included as part of the probe.
BSO has not provided a copy of the investigation’s summary and findings, only stating that it would be released “when and if” it became available. Even though Braswell routinely grant interviews and he is often photographed at public ceremonies, BSO has refused to provide his photograph, claiming an exemption under state law that is reserved for police officers.
BSO has also not responded to a public records request for Braswell’s employment application. South Florida Times has confirmed he attended The Citadel, a military college located in Charleston, S.C., for one year, before withdrawing in 1965 without a degree. He transferred to Furman College in Greenville, S.C., attending classes from 1967 to 1969 but did not graduate. He withdrew from Furman in 1970.
The Florida Secretary of State’s database shows Braswell became a notary public in 1993 and his commission expired in 1997. He is also a member of the National Sheriffs’ Association.
According to published reports, Braswell served as a volunteer chaplain for police departments in Dallas and Euless, Texas, and in New Orleans. Officials at those departments, as well as the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, were unable to locate any record of him serving as chaplain.
Braswell also worked for the Fort Lauderdale police department, and started its chaplain service. He joined BSO in 1989, when the late former sheriff, Nick Navarro hired him as a caseworker.
In 1990, he became the department’s full-time chaplain and now earns $103,438 a year. After 22 years on the job, he has qualified for a state pension, but that could now be placed in jeopardy, if he is found to have violated work rules.
“Workplace misconduct can potentially be grounds for forfeiture of benefits,” said Kristopher Purcell, director of communications for the Florida Department of Management Services.
Purcell said there is procedure, which includes an investigation of the issues, prior to any decision being made.
Pictured above is former BSO Chaplain Rick Braswell.