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Sheriff boycotts stations, denies sex allegations

Lee County Sheriff John McDougall is boycotting two local television stations, claiming that one spread false rumors that he had an extramarital affair.

The feud became public this week after McDougall denied WBBH the use of off-duty deputies to help with crowd control for a Wheel of Fortune visit to Bonita Springs this weekend.

The agency also is refusing to provide public information to the stations unless the information is crucial to public safety.

The sheriff ordered employees not to cooperate with Waterman Broadcasting Co., which owns WBBH and WEVU, after a WBBH report criticized the way his office handled the investigation of a baby girl whose body was found partially buried in the woods.

That was the last straw, McDougall said.

The sex allegations surfaced in November when a reporter for WBBH allegedly told Sheriff's Office employees that a videotape of the sheriff having sex with the wife of a deputy existed. McDougall denied that allegation Thursday.

Waterman Broadcasting attorney Steve Carta said he has sent the sheriff a letter telling him the news blackout is unconstitutional.

Charlotte County deputy

fired for harassing woman

PORT CHARLOTTE _ The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office fired a deputy for harassing a woman who had sought protection from her ex-husband.

Deputy Raul Escarra, 29, was fired after investigators concluded that he harassed Libby Valentine, 38, after Valentine asked him in February to investigate threatening phone calls she believed were coming from her ex-husband.

Escarra never investigated _ instead, he began calling Valentine repeatedly to ask her out, investigators said.

_ Wire reports

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