A panel of three lawmen from across Maryland found St. Mary’s Corrections Sgt. Randall Molitor guilty of four work-related offenses during the coronavirus pandemic in a rare administrative hearing on Tuesday held in Leonardtown, and recommended his termination from the sheriff’s office.
Molitor had been accused by the Office of Professional Responsibilities, a department at the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office that oversees employee conduct, of counts of insubordination, supervisory misconduct, a truthfulness violation and failing to protect inmates from abuse, stemming from an early-March shift where he had declined to have his squad’s temperatures taken, contrary to an order by the sheriff’s office intended to stop the spread of COVID-19 into the detention center.
On March 10, Molitor was the highest ranking officer on duty during the midnight shift, and had previously had his temperature taken when the sheriff’s office had first issued the order days before, according to attorneys for both Molitor and the sheriff’s department.
At the beginning of the Tuesday night shift, however, Molitor refused having his squad’s temperatures taken while on the phone with medical staff.
“He says, ‘No, we’re all good,’” said Kevin Karpinski, an attorney prosecuting the case on behalf of the sheriff’s office, who added that Molitor had failed “to protect the safety of the inmates” and his coworkers after failing to have his own temperature checked.
“There’s not a factual dispute,” defense attorney Shaun Owens said at the hearing. “The issue here is the implementation of a brand new rule.”
Witnesses called at the hearing, which functioned similarly to a jury trial, included corrections officers who said Molitor had asked out to the room if the officers wanted to have their temperatures checked, which most declined, ignored or did not notice. Owens argued the squad’s voluntary declining and confusion over the new rule led to Molitor’s refusal of the temperature checks.
“His obligation as a supervisor was to say, ‘It’s an order,’” Karpinski said.
Tara King, the medic on duty that night, who works for a private contractor independent of the sheriff’s department, testified that she had called Molitor and asked if his squad was ready to get their temperatures checked, to which she said he replied “We’re good,” twice.
The defense, however, argued King had prompted the question to Molitor as a voluntary question.
“The person who is taking the temperatures is not presenting it as an order,” Owens said in his closing arguments.
“Sgt. Molitor was responsible for making sure his shift did what was required by the detention center,” Karpinski said.
The panel of three law enforcement officers first found Molitor guilty of all four counts after briefly deliberating, and later found the appropriate punishment to be termination, following a recommendation by the OPR and Karpinski, who described Molitor’s disciplinary record as “voluminous.”
The board’s determination is now sent to Sheriff Tim Cameron (R), who will make a final decision on Molitor’s employment based on the board’s findings.
Administrative hearings are held by the accused employee’s own choice, according to a sheriff’s office spokesperson, and there has not been such a hearing in St. Mary’s since at least 2016.