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Fired Pasco deputy may fight back

Deputy Timothy Simpson's career with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office ended Thursday with his firing.

But the investigation into whether Simpson committed sexual misconduct continues.

As the department determines whether another of its officers has broken the law, Simpson's attorney is researching a lawsuit and wondering whether racism played a part in Simpson's treatment.

"You can't help but think, since he's one of four black sworn officers in the department, that this is somehow racially motivated," said lawyer James Wardell.

Does Simpson think so? "Sure he does," Wardell said.

Simpson said Tuesday that he was told he was under investigation for "some type of sexual thing," he said. There was another allegation, of failing to arrest someone he should have, Simpson said.

Simpson, 29, was hired 18 months ago and spent his time on duty as a road deputy on Pasco's eastern side. Before being hired, he was an officer with the vice unit of the Baldwin Police Department, south of Jacksonville.

His personnel record shows that he was arrested once, in 1985, while a student at William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Simpson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after punching and kicking a female student.

He served a stint in the U.S. Navy, and later held a series of jobs before going to college and being certified as a law officer.

Thursday, Simpson was called and asked to come to a meeting at the Sheriff's Office, Wardell said. Simpson wanted his attorney with him, but Wardell couldn't make it at the time.

Simpson received another call ordering him to appear at the office and declined to answer questions from investigators without his attorney present, Wardell said. Then he was fired.

Since the firing came while he was still a probationary employee, the Sheriff's Office does not legally need to state a reason.

Now the possibility of criminal charges hangs over Simpson.

"We are continuing to pursue an investigation based on a complaint made against Mr. Simpson," sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said. He would not say whether it was a criminal investigation, but internal investigations usually end when the employee leaves the department.