LARGO — Sheriff Bob Gualtieri fired a deputy Monday after an investigation found he offered to pay an 18-year-old woman he had recently arrested and her friend to come to his house while his young daughter was asleep in the home.
Deputy Brian Britt, 45, was terminated after 17 years with the department. Gualtieri said his behavior was "a betrayal of his oath."
"It just shows an absolute, 100 percent lack of character, lack of values, terrible decision-making," he said, "and to put your child in that type of a situation is just totally reprehensible."
According to the investigation, Britt met the woman last December at a home in Oldsmar to arrest her on a domestic battery charge out of St. Petersburg. She answered the door wearing just a towel, then invited him into the home while she got some identification. In the bathroom, he saw the woman's 21-year-old friend naked in the shower.
He arrested the woman, then took her to a park to wait for a van to take her to the jail. During the 20-to-30 minute wait, the investigation says, Britt removed the woman's handcuffs and engaged in "flirtatious conversation." He told her his financial status and where he lived, and she told him she worked as a dancer at an adult club.
While she was in jail, the woman called on a recorded line the friend Britt had seen in the shower and said he was trying to flirt with her. She then passed on a message from Britt: "Tell your home girl again I'm sorry for seeing her. I mean, I'm sorry for opening the bathroom and looking at her. I didn't mean to."
She added that he asked where she worked, and if her friend worked there as well, and said he wanted to come see her, according to the investigation.
Within moments of the woman's release from jail the next day, Britt called her on his agency-issued phone. He told investigators he felt that "she was probably arrested for something that didn't occur" and was "sympathetic to her situation." He also said he texted her using his personal cellphone during the next seven to 10 days after her release.
During one conversation, he asked the woman if she trusted police, then invited her up to come to his house for an "encounter," the investigation says. She asked Britt about the purpose of the visit and said her time wasn't free. She added that she was with the friend he had seen in the shower.
"She's hot too," he wrote. "Bring her."
He said the purpose of the visit was for "conversation" and that he'd pay them $100 each for a one-hour visit.
The women traveled from St. Petersburg to his home in Pasco County the same day. When they arrived, both women showed signs of impairment, Britt told investigators. He was also impaired, having consumed about 12 shots of tequila, he said.
Inside, Britt had dimmed the lights and lit candles. During their conversation, the woman he had arrested said she engages in "fetishes" for money. She referred to Britt as one of her clients.
Britt started rubbing the woman's thigh, according to the investigation. She got angry, saying the contact went beyond the conversation they had agreed on.
He told her he wasn't going to pay them for just conversation.
Instead, he put gas in their car from a can in his garage and sent them on their way. During the visit, Britt's 11-year-old daughter was asleep in the home.
Britt told investigators he invited the women over because he was "drinking, depressed and wanted 'interaction,'" according to the investigation. He told investigators he realized he had made a "cruical and regretful error in judgment."
Britt could not be reached for comment.
The incident came to the agency's attention in the spring after the woman mentioned it to another deputy, who reported it up the chain of command, Gualtieri said.
Britt was hired as a detention deputy in August 2000 and transferred to patrol in January 2005. He moved to judicial operations in March 2008 then back to patrol a few months later.
During his stint at the courthouse, Britt flexed his pectoral muscles to entertain a jury during a trial.
He was handed a three-day suspension.
Two years prior, he received a seven-day suspension for looking at pornographic material on his agency computer while off-duty.
Gualtieri said that since the pec-flexing incident, he had a few disciplinary situations that turned out to be unsubstantiated, meaning there wasn't enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegations.
"It seems like he got on the right side of it," the sheriff said, "but apparently not enough."
Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or [email protected] Follow @kathrynvarn.