CCSO faces Civil Rights lawsuit

Heather Cogar
Photo: Facebook Pictured: Former CCSO Deputy, Heather Cogar

Heather Cogar sues CCSO

Heather Cogar, a former deputy with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, has filed suit in US District Court for The Middle District of Florida, alleging Civil Rights violations were committed by CCSO, former Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, Deputy Brian Hesse, and Sheriff Mike Prendergast.

CCSO hired Cogar in January, 2014, as a deputy, and has been terminated twice by Dawsy, once in 2015, and once in 2016.

Each termination was ultimately reversed by an appeals board process.

But in January, 2017, newly-elected Sheriff Prendergast refused to fully reinstate Cogar as a deputy, forcing her to accept a non-sworn role as a dispatcher if she wanted to remain a part of CCSO.

In a previous Suncoast Standard article, “Former deputy Heather Cogar v. Citrus County Sheriff’s Office,” CCSO was asked if they would consider fully reinstating Cogar since the domestic battery charge that led to her arrest and December, 2016 termination was dropped by the State Attorney’s office.

Prendergast stated that “The State Attorney’s determination in this matter does not alter my decision on previously sustained violations for Violation of SOP 108.00; Improper Conduct, Conduct Unbecoming.”

An eight-count complaint

In the eight-count complaint filed on January 30, 2018, Cogar’s attorney, Jay Lechner, with Whittel & Melton, alleges the following:

  • Count 1: Sex Discrimination in Violation of Title VII 42 U.S.C.§ 2000e-2 (Defendant Sheriff’s Office)
  • Count 2: Sex Discrimination in Violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 (Defendant Sheriff’s Office)
  • Count 3: Defamation as to False Statements Made/Published by Defendant in Press Release on December 10, 2016 (Defendant Jeff Dawsy)
  • Count 4: Defamation as to False Statements Made/Published by Defendant Sheriff Prendergast in Citrus County Chronicle Interview (Defendant Sheriff’s Office and Prendergast)
  • Count 5: Malicious Prosecution Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 (Defendant Sheriff’s Office)
  • Count 6: Malicious Prosecution Under Florida Law (Defendants Sheriff’s Office and Bryan Hesse)
  • Count 7: Civil Conspiracy 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Defendant Sheriff’s Office)
  • Count 8: Civil Conspiracy Under Florida Law (Defendants Sheriff’s Office, Dawsy, Hesse, and Prendergast)

Click here to read the entire complaint.

At press time, neither Cogar’s attorney or CCSO was available for comment.

This is a developing story.

Written by Dawn Jaglowski, Investigative Reporter, and Lou Newman, Publisher of the Suncoast Standard


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