Portland Mayor Tom Potter has demoted Police Chief Derrick Foxworth to captain, following an investigation that found no evidence to support allegations that he abused his power while trying to conceal a sexual relationship with civilian desk clerk Angela Oswalt that concluded five years ago.
The city's investigation did find that Foxworth violated police bureau policy when he shared personal opinions with Oswalt about a pending police matter.
"While this was a private consensual relationship between two adults, it has been made a part of the public's consciousness," Potter said at a press conference at City Hall. "And the Portland Police Bureau and members of the public look to their chief to set the tone for acceptable conduct. I do not believe Foxworth's example meets the standards that I, as the police commissioner, expect of the Chief of Police.
"I've concluded that Chief Foxworth's ability to lead the organization effectively as chief has been damaged, " he added. Asked to elaborate, he singled out a 'media frenzy' and rush to judgement by local media outlets.
Foxworth, 47, has been on paid administrative leave since April 11, one week after Victor Calzaretta, the attorney for Oswalt, filed documents with the city threatening a lawsuit accusing Foxworth of abuses of power in trying to conceal the sexual relationship.
While the city investigation found no abuse of power, it did say Foxworth had engaged in unprofessional conduct while serving as Northeast Precinct Commander by sending Oswalt an email concerning allegations about sexual harassment in the city's Special Emergency Reaction Team , or SERT. In that email, he said that he agreed with her that then-Chief Mark Kroeker and Mark Paresi, then an assistant chief, were aware of sexual harassment by members of SERT.
In a statement, Foxworth said: "I disagree with the finding that my private sharing of a personal opinion at the time of a very public controversy in the bureau amounts to a violation of Police Bureau Directive 310. Such private conversations and sharing of personal opinions are common in the Portland Police Bureau."
He said he was satisfied he was cleared of the other allegations and was looking forward to returning to work.
Potter said that acting Police Chief Rosie Sizer would now be made interim chief. He said he was considering whether do a full nationwide search for a chief or simply to promote Sizer. He said he would consult with fellow city commissioners before making that decision.
It remains to be seen whether Oswalt will pursue a lawsuit against the city. The city is engaged in negotiations with Oswalt and her lawyer over potential job placement at the city, negotiations that may include a settlement any possible lawsuit.