Separate assault cases against two Cecil County Sheriff’s Deputies have been dropped, according to court records. In addition, a civil suit filed by the deputies against Sheriff Barry Janney– challenging their assignments to menial, non-law enforcement duties pending the outcome of their criminal cases– has been dismissed.
Gregory D. Passwaters, of Earleville, a veteran deputy who was assigned to patrol southern Cecil County, was indicted by a grand jury last summer on a charge of second-degree assault stemming from an off-duty incident last May. The investigation of the alleged incident, reportedly occurring at the Chesapeake Inn in Chesapeake City, was handled by State Police.
According to court documents, a “notice of dismissal” was filed in the case on February 8 and the state declined to prosecute further.
In a separate, unrelated case, an assault charge against another deputy, Thomas H. Pierson III, of Elkton, was dropped in December. That case allegedly involved an off-duty altercation with another deputy. Court files show the state declined to prosecute on Nov. 25 and a dismissal notice was filed December 4, 2009.
Passwaters and Pierson filed a civil suit last August against Sheriff Janney, saying they had been assigned to the county parks department and ordered to mow grass and pull weeds while suspended from law enforcement duties pending the outcome of their criminal cases. The deputies maintained that re-assigning them to the Parks agency, instead of administrative duties within the Sheriff’s Department, was a violation of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.
Court records show that civil suit was terminated with a “stipulation of dismissal” filed by the deputies on December 23.
The Cecil Times does not usually cover crime or court cases, since that is one of the things the Cecil Whig actually does report on in great detail. However, we are puzzled that the Whig, which prominently published accusations against the deputies, has not published the fact that the charges were dropped and the civil case dismissed, according to our search of their online archives.
If the press is quick to accuse, it must be just as quick to publish the exoneration and do so just as prominently as the original charge. To do otherwise is unfair both to the accused and to the news organization’s readers .
In southern Cecil County, Deputy Passwaters is well known and highly respected for his service to the community. Many residents will welcome his return to patrolling their neighborhoods.