Williamson County Sheriff's Office

Williamson County Sheriff’s commander resigns after social media post criticism

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A Williamson County Sheriff's Office Commander has resigned amidst heavy criticism and controversy over several graphic social media post created by him depicting Barbies and Elf on the Shelf dolls depicting  the graphic dismemberment of a black athlete and jokes about date rape.

County officials confirmed that WilCo Sheriff Patrol Division Cmdr. Steve Deaton was "no longer working for Williamson County as of Sept. 2, 2019"

Deaton posted the pictures from November 2017 to December 2018 featuring Barbies and Elf on the Shelf dolls acting out the scenes with paint simulating blood, vomit and other bodily functions. The captions were typed into the text field, indicating the posts were added by the poster.

The posts were first revealed in an investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Calls for Deaton's firing have been the focus of intense criticism of the Sheriff's Department over the last three weeks, including during the public comment portion of the Williamson County Commissioner's Court meetings. The commissioners court has also heavily criticized Deaton, including Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell publicly calling for his resignation. However, the court lacks the legal authority to order the sheriff to fire a specific officer. 

One post depicted an Elf holding a vomiting Barbie’s hair with text stating, “Sticking to etiquette (sic) our elf holds the hair of his date to the party while she pukes. Silently though he wonders whether the roofie he slipped her earlier will still be effective.” Other posts ranged from sexual jokes involving Barbies to an Elf ransoming a bound and gagged Barbie.

Another post showed an Elf dismembering a black football player at the knees with a chainsaw and an American flag in the background.

The text read, “And here’s the start … Our Patriotic elf grew angrier all season. He finally snapped and decided to show the NFL how he goes about taking knees (sic) for not standing during our national anthem.”

Gravell and Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody liked the post. Both have received heavy criticism for this issue, including calls for them to resign.

In an email responding to questions about the post, Chody wrote, “I do not condone the pictures posted by the commander…That was only in reference for standing for the US flag issue and nothing more. I do not advocate for violence against anybody.” 

In a subsequent post on his Facebook page, he claimed legal counsel told him to take no action regarding Deaton because he had not violated existing policies because they were "poorly worded" and firing him would be a violation of his 1st Amendment rights. 

Deaton has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming a hostile work environment.

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