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Madison County Sheriff Temporarily Ousted

By news admin

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. - Judge Don Ash has granted the county's request to temporarily oust Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork.

Judge Don Ash was expected to sign the documents sometime after the Wednesday morning hearing. Chief Deputy Tommy Cunningham, by statute, will take over as leader of the department.

Judge Ash ruled Woolfork had shown "willful misconduct" while in office.

"I think looking at the totality of the circumstances, it is appropriate to temporarily suspend you from your duties as Sheriff of Madison County," he said following an approximately two and a half hour hearing.

Madison County Attorney Steve Maroney called no witnesses. He instead submitted sworn affidavits and transcripts. There were four in all: the transcript from the Oct. 23, 2013 order of protection hearing involving Woolfork and Deputy Sharon Sangster; a sworn affidavit from Clerk Fred Birmingham regarding the county's adoption of a personnel policy; an affidavit from the sexual harassment investigation into Woolfork conducted by a private attorney; and transcripts of interviews with Lt. Lisa Balderrama and former Deputy Barbara Autry.

Woolfork's Attorney Mark Donahoe called two witnesses. Both Rose Cash, Financial Administrator for the sheriff's department and Lt. Jerry Elston, Executive Assistant to the sheriff, testified moral within the department has not suffered and Woolfork has continued to be the leader of the department.

Woolfork has been embroiled in controversy since October, when Jackson police were called to his Sangster's home. Woolfork admits to an extramarital affair with the deputy. She was granted a protection order against him in October. A Madison County grand jury indicted him on attempted aggravated sexual battery and domestic assault charge in December.

Judge Ash specifically cited Woolfork's criminal indictment, the sexual harassment complaints against him and the order of protection against him as reasons for his decision.

The temporary ouster would stay in effect until Woolfork's actual ouster trial in July.