Guard Says He Was Fired After Hurting an Inmate's Feelings

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010  |  Updated 11:37 AM CDT
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Guard Says He Was Fired After Hurting an Inmate's Feelings

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Philanthropist and investor Alberto Vilar was sentenced today to nine years in prison.

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A Dallas County jail guard recently fired after allegedly making anti-gay remarks and commenting about religion has said his free speech rights have been violated but he will not seek to regain his job.

A sheriff's department review concluded Stephen Johnson, 59, persisted in volunteering his religious opinions and speaking out against homosexuality.

Johnson, after nearly 17 years with the department, was fired Jan. 20 for conduct unbecoming an officer and for lying to internal affairs, the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday.

Johnson in October interrupted a private conversation among jail staff and "interjected his own opinions," telling them all gays should be annihilated, according to a sheriff's report.

"They made it out to be that I was a bigot. I was fired 'cause I hurt someone else's feelings," Johnson said Monday. He said that his free speech rights were violated but that he will not appeal.

Johnson said he made his comments to some clerks. The names of the witnesses who filed the complaints were obscured in the sheriff's department report.

In a sworn statement, Johnson denied saying he supported slavery while noting that "slavery is a fact in the Bible." Johnson also offered an opinion about the origin of dinosaurs.

"I believe that all dinosaurs were born of Satanic angel who has sex with woman and the animal kingdom that created ungodly reptilian creatures none of these were on the Ark," he said in the sworn statement.

Johnson also said that he didn't believe in homosexuality and "that they should be put to death," according to his statement. But he said his beliefs don't lead him to treat gays differently.

Capt. Bart Terrell, who supervises the intake area where Johnson was assigned, wrote that Johnson demonstrated a "pattern of conduct that is verbally inflammatory in nature and is detrimental to keeping a good working environment."

Johnson was suspended for three days and given 90 days of probation in 2000 for using a derogatory word about minorities while talking to several inmates he was searching, records show.

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