Since his abrupt retirement a year ago, former Tallahassee City Auditor Bert Fletcher has twice been accused of violent behavior, including the alleged sexual assault of a city employee and punching a prominent Tallahassee businessman during a profane tirade at a local church.
Two temporary restraining orders were issued against Fletcher and later dismissed. The first came in the summer when Fletcher was accused of threatening and assaulting Tallahassee insurance agent Doug Croley at a funeral and later at their Quincy church. It was voluntarily dropped by Croley.
The second was issued two weeks ago, but on Friday was dismissed by a judge. It followed sexual violence allegations by a city employee, and a judge temporarily barred him from City Hall, where he served as the appointed auditor for 17 years before his early retirement in December 2017.
Fletcher, 63, received high marks on his annual evaluations, which included reviews from city commissioners. The auditor is appointed by the commission and is one of the top positions in city government.
Insufficient evidence to continue restraining order
A temporary injunction for protection against sexual violence was approved by Leon County Circuit Judge Dawn Caloca-Johnson on Dec. 3. It restricted Fletcher from going within 500 feet of the woman’s home or City Hall. It also required he surrender all firearms and ammunition to the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office.
Leon County Judge J. Layne Smith dismissed the woman’s petition to have the restraining order extended, ruling in Fletcher’s favor that the evidence supporting it was insufficient. Smith’s ruling Friday afternoon followed testimony from the woman, Fletcher and a Tallahassee Police investigator.
The case is sealed. The Tallahassee Democrat obtained a copy of the temporary injunction and Smith’s order dismissing it, and is not naming the petitioner because she is a victim of alleged sexual violence.
Fletcher who lives in Quincy, could not be reached for comment. An attempt to leave a voicemail for him was unsuccessful due to his mailbox being full.
Tallahassee attorney Jimmy Judkins, who represented Fletcher in the summer incident in Quincy, declined to comment on the most recent restraining order or confirm whether he was acting as his counsel in that case. He said a comment from Fletcher was unlikely.
The temporary protection order followed an investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department in November for an alleged sexual battery reported by the woman.
The allegations came after Fletcher and the woman, who’d had a sexual relationship for about a year, spent several days in early November together at an Airbnb. She said he escalated their consensual sex to something the woman expressly said she would not do and told him to stop, according to a police report obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat.
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TPD investigators told her there was not probable cause to make an arrest but on Nov. 27, referred the case to the State Attorney’s Office. Assistant State Attorney Sarah Hassler declined to prosecute. The woman informed TPD investigators she had filed a restraining order against Fletcher.
Earlier restraining order followed fights, death threats
The restraining order obtained by Croley against Fletcher was issued by Gadsden County in July after a series of brawls and death threats.
Croley declined to comment. But according to his petition for protection against repeat violence, he said on April 12, he and Fletcher both attended a funeral for a Quincy dentist at First Baptist Church.
Croley said he noticed Fletcher giving him threatening looks during the service. Fletcher was upset over a workplace dispute between one of his relatives and Croley. When Croley made his way down the church aisle to speak with the dentist’s family, Fletcher “aggressively” got in his face and pushed him.
“This is going to cost you in blood or money,” Croley said Fletcher told him, followed by a string of expletives. “I told him that was terrible language for him to use in a church and that it certainly was neitherthe time nor the place to discuss the matter.”
Quincy City Commissioner Daniel McMillian broke up the altercation.
‘Started cursing at me and stated he wanted to kill me’
Croley said he didn’t see Fletcher again until July, three months later, when he and his wife ran into him at Centenary United Methodist Church. Croley was talking with a congregation member in the aisle when Fletcher walked by and elbowed him in the side from behind.
Fletcher left the church. When Croley and his wife went outside to leave, he confronted Fletcher about the jab.
“Mr. Fletcher then aggressively came in front of my face and pressed his body against me,” Croley wrote in a sworn affidavit. “He then started cursing at me and stated he wanted to kill me.”
Croley said Fletcher charged him, scratching and throwing punches. Croley said he tried to back away from him, tripped over a concrete drain, fell, and Fletcher tried to choke him.
He tried to calm Fletcher and told him he could have him arrested to which Fletcher replied, “Do it.” Croley said Fletcher, who was still angry about the workplace dispute, said to him “there were three people he wanted to kill and I was one of them.”
The church’s pastor attempted to mediate a conversation between the two men, but Fletcher remained aggressive, according to court records.
After the death threats, Croley decided he needed to notify law enforcement about Fletcher’s “irrational” behavior. Later that day, Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young met with Croley and his wife at their house, and he urged them to file for the restraining order. It was dismissed in August voluntarily by Croley.
Contact Karl Etters at email@example.com or @KarlEtters on Twitter.
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