DETROIT (WXYZ) — As a panel prepares to select the next Wayne County Sheriff, past misconduct complaints filed against two leading candidates for the job are receiving new scrutiny.
Fourteen candidates have applied for the post following the death of Sheriff Benny Napoleon in December after a battle with COVID-19. A panel made up of three elected county officials will interview candidates beginning Thursday. A vote is expected the next day.
Two of the leading candidates for the position, Deputy Chief Raphael Washington and Chief Robert Dunlap, were each the subject of misconduct accusations in federal lawsuits that ended in taxpayer-funded settlements.
In 2017, Raphael “Ray” Washington was accused by a Wayne County deputy of making unwanted sexual advances and requests.
According to a lawsuit, the deputy alleged that Washington asked her to come into his office and “massage his neck because it was bothering him.” She complied, she said, ”rather than risk retaliation.”
The deputy ultimately left Wayne County for a position in another department only to later return. When she did, she said she texted Washington asking to be given an assignment in the county’s courts division.
According to a text message she provided in her complaint, Washington replied: “As soon as I get my massage.”
The deputy responded: “You better do some (deputy) training and read the quid pro quo section.” Washington responded: “That (section) is for you,” adding later: “Do what you have to do.”
The deputy claims that when she told her co-workers about the text messages, she was retaliated against by Washington and others. Wayne County ultimately settled the lawsuit, along with a related case against a different Sheriff’s official, for $85,000 and admitted no wrongdoing.
Late Wednesday, Washington issued a statement saying: "I am aware of one complaint which Sheriff Benny Napoleon acted immediately at that time to have thoroughly investigated. As a result of the investigation, the complaint was determined to be unfounded and was subsequently resolved to his satisfaction."
Another candidate for the position is Robert Dunlap, the current chief of jails. 15 years ago, while an Asst. Police Chief in the Detroit Police Department, a woman who claims to have dated Dunlap alleged in a court filing that he used police resources to harass her.
In 2005, she obtained a Personal Protection Order against Dunlap and, in a civil lawsuit, claimed Dunlap retaliated against her for the PPO, having a team of DPD officers pull her over and detain her for at least 30 minutes.
While the woman accused Dunlap of violating the protection order, a Wayne County judge ultimately disagreed.
The woman filed a civil suit against Dunlap and he later filed his own counterclaim, alleging she had harassed him. The City of Detroit settled the case, paying the woman $75,000. Dunlap admitted no wrongdoing.
By text message, Dunlap would not comment on the substance of the allegations but stressed that they are 15 years old, that a judge ruled he did not violate the PPO and that he “was granted a Top Secret Law Enforcement Security Clearance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation” afterwards.
Beginning Thursday, a three-person panel made up of Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Judge Freddie Burton and Clerk Cathy Garrett will begin interviews of the 14 sheriffs candidates—including Dunlap including Washington—to determine who will lead the department.
A decision is expected Friday.
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.