The reigning Flagler County Sheriff’s Detention Deputy of the Year was disciplined in late May with a written reprimand for having sex with an ex-inmate, a violation of the department’s policy. It was the second time in two years the deputy was disciplined for a sexually-related infraction. The deputy, Randy Stephen Vickers, was disciplined two years ago for asking an inmate, jokingly, if she’d like to be sexually assaulted. In the interim, Vickers was promoted to Corporal.
In early March a jail commander was ordered to conduct an internal investigation of Vickers, who’s been employed at the Sheriff’s Office since June 2009. The inquiry that was “started by Senior Commander [Steve] Cole was made because a confidential source stated she had a personal relationship with Cpl. Stephen Vickers and received money for sex,” the internal investigation report states.
In an interview with an investigator the source would later specify that the money, which she got in August or September 2013, wasn’t “directly for sex but just that she needed some,” according to the investigation. “She also went on to say that she got special treatment from him when she was incarcerated at the Flagler County Inmate Facility.”
A month after Vickers was having the relationship with the former inmate that summer, he was among the four Sheriff’s Office employees recognized with quarterly awards. Vickers, the Sheriff’s Office said, “was recognized for his vast knowledge of detention services as demonstrated through his attitude, work ethic and interpersonal skills with inmates at the Flagler County jail.” In December, Vickers was again recognized, this time as the Detention Deputy of the Year, with emphasis on his positive influences on juvenile detainees and his interpersonal skills which, the news release at the time stated, “have created a better image for this agency.” In January, he was promoted to corporal.
Sheriff Jim Manfre, of course, was unaware at the time of the internal investigation that would be triggered five months later.
Evidence in the internal investigation included text messages from Vickers, interviews and two recorded phone calls between the source and Vickers. Vickers told an investigator that “he never gave money to her for sex or never gave her special treatment” at the jail, the internal investigation report shows. “He did state that he would talk to her but just in general conversation.”
Vickers and the source have known each other for about 20 years. On Feb. 24, she placed a call to Vickers after being provided the number by sheriff’s investigators. The call was “controlled,” meaning that detectives would be listening in then or later. During the call, the source asked Vickers if he wanted “to hang out or hook up.”
The source at the time had six arrests in Flagler. “This is not a person the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office would expect their employees to associate with on a personal level,” the investigation states.
The relevant Sheriff’s Office policy states: Personnel shall avoid regular or continuous associations or dealings with persons whom they know, or should know, are persons under criminal investigation or indictment, or who have a reputation in the community or the FCSO for involvement in criminal behavior, except as necessary to the performance of official duties, or where unavoidable because of other personal relationships of the personnel.”
Vickers told investigators that the text messages were his but that the source had initiated contact, and that the last time they’d “hung out” was eight to 10 months before the investigation was conducted in April.
A detective involved in the investigation concluded that “there was insufficient evidence to indicate a crime had taken place or that Cpl. Vickers is soliciting the confidential source for sexual acts.” The interviews with the woman and with Vickers “also substantiates that this did not happen,” the internal investigation concluded. But since both stated that they were together in the August-September time-frame, in 2013, when Vickers knew the woman’s history, his continuing to see her violated the department’s Code of Conduct.
On May 27, Vickers received a written reprimand and was placed on six months’ disciplinary probation, which will not expire until the end of November. Vickers makes $39,000 a year.
In April 2012, a detention deputy who no longer works at the agency filed an incident report relating what he’d witnessed during a shift when Vickers was also on duty.
It was between 2 and 3 a.m. A 41-year-old Palm Coast woman had been brought in by Bunnell police on charges of cocaine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both charges were dropped two months later. Vickers and two other deputies handled the booking. Vickers, according to the incident report, started asking the woman questions about how long she’d been using cocaine. She hesitated. He said: “It’s just you and me talking here.” The conversation continued. Vickers then, according to the report, helped the woman make several calls from the pay phone and the booking phone, a favoritism not usually shown inmates. He then complimented her on the whiteness of her teeth and her smile and told her: “They are not going to let you sit out here all night but I will keep you out here as long as I can.”
The woman had pleaded with Vickers not to be placed in a holding cell, but rather to be allowed to stay on a bench in the booking area. “I would like you to be able to stay out here too,” he told the woman, according to the incident report. When another inmate was reported to be coming into the booking area, the woman was placed in a holding cell.
The incident report then narrates the following sequence of events, in the former deputy’s words: “While I was seated at the booking counter [the woman inmate] called me to her holding cell stating that she was in distress. I then called over the radio for Cpl. Abruzzo to please step inside. Cpl. Abruzzo and Dep. Vickers came inside immediately and spoke with [the inmate] until she became calm. The final comment made between Dep. Vickers and [the inmate] was while Dep. Vickers was asking a series of questions. While asking [the woman] the series of questions, Dep. Vickers asked, ‘Have you ever been sexually assaulted?’ [The inmate] answered, ‘No.’ Dep. Vickers responded, ‘Would you like to be?’ He then began laughing.”
At 5:30 that morning, the woman bonded out, and was escorted out of the facility by Vickers.
That incident took place when Don Fleming was the sheriff. The incident was closed with an “oral consultation.”
“I believe that the statement was made in a joking manner but was taken offensively,” the disciplining officer wrote. “When dealing with inmates we have to stay professional at all times and even though we make a joke, it could be interpreted as inappropriate. A plan of action was discussed with Deputy Vickers.” The oral consultation record does not specify what the plan was.
Vickers was offered to speak about the issues by way of the department’s spokesman. He declined. The spokesman said there have been no other disciplinary issues involving Vickers.