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FDLE Reviews Complaint Against Ex-Director of the Kearney Center

Sarah Bohentin
Posted at 2:08 PM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 15:33:05-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is reviewing a complaint against a former Kearney Center employee, who previously sued Rick Kearney for sexual harassment. 

According to Assistant State Attorney Eddie Evans, the State Attorney's Office and FDLE are reviewing the complaint against Sarah Bohentin, who sued Kearney for sexual harassment after she was fired in early November.

Documents sent out by Beatitude Partners (BP), who is the group that operates the Kearney Center, claimed that Bohentin had accessed her work emails after she was officially fired and forwarded emails to her attorney, Shaina Thorpe. They said that she had not only deleted, but purged 127 documents as well.

In emails released by the group, Claude Walker, one of the members in BP, emailed Bohentin on Nov. 2 that it was clear on Oct. 30 when they first talked about her termination, that she was fired. 

In Walker's affidavit, BP had made the decision to fire Bohentin on Oct. 29 because of her "lack of performance in the duties of her job combined with her inability to work with the staff at the Kearney Center and its clients."

When Walker and Attorney Phillip Russell met with her the following day, Walker claimed that they told her she was fired. He testified to law enforcement that she asked for the weekend to consider the offer. 

An email sent from Walker revealed that Bohentin had counter-offered on the $7,500 severance deal they had extended to her, with a demand of $100,000. 

They declined her offer and came back with a deal to raise her severance pay to $10,000 and made it clear that she was not to show up at the center again.

"I subsequently sent [an email] to Ms. Bohentin at 3:30 p.m. telling her in no uncertain terms that her emloyement was terminated and she was to leave the building immediately and not return," Walker claimed in his affidavit. 

Bohentin, however, claimed a different chain of events happened in a statement sent out by her attorney on Wednesday.

Unlike the BP's documents, her statement alleged that on Oct. 30, when the subject of her termination came up, she was asked to voluntarily quit in exchange for a severance package. 

She said that she had not been fired, nor had she resigned and claimed she was still rightfully employed, saying that she had submitted a proposal on BP's behalf over the weekend.

Bohentin added that completing the proposal would have required access to the center's network and her employee email over the weekend.

On Nov. 2, she said she was told in an email that she was fired on Oct. 30.

"If I was in fact actually terminated on Friday, why was he continuing to send me e-mails on that account?  That act alone would imply that I still had authorization to access my e-mail account," Bohentin asserted. "Regardless, the e-mail did not say anything regarding my access to my e-mail account or anything else for that matter.  It simply asked me to leave the Kearney Center at the end of the day, which I did. "

Bohentin admitted that she had forwarded emails that she felt were related to her suit against Kearney the following day, however she denied ever having known that she wasn't allowed to access her email.

She didn't recall deleting emails, but claimed that if she did, they would be easily recovered. She also mentioned in the statement that the new director of the shelter continued to use her email for about a month, leaving the email attached to Bohentin active and accessible to others.

"I did not at any time change the password to my Kearney Center e-mail account... The following day, November 4, 2015, an alert popped up on my phone that my password was incorrect for my Kearney Center e-mail address.  I never made any attempt to access the account," Bohentin claimed. 

Amid the claims from both parties, the State Attorney's Office and FDLE confirmed that they are reviewing the complaint.

Gretl Plessinger, a spokesperson for the FDLE, stressed that FDLE was not starting an investigation saying, "We received a complaint and are reviewing it... Here’s what I can say regarding the Kearney Center review: FDLE received a complaint about someone gaining access to the computer system at the Kearney Foundation. We are reviewing the complaint to determine whether or not any potential criminal violations occurred.  This is not currently an investigation."