Editor's note: The Daily Advertiser is not naming the subordinate who said former Lafayette Police Officer Sgt. Wayne Griffin sent sexually explicit messages to protect her from potential retaliation. The following contains portions of those messages.
A discipline board overturned the firing of former interim Lafayette Police Chief Wayne Griffin, opting instead to suspend him for 90 days - the maximum suspension under state law - and Griffin will be reinstated as a sergeant.
Griffin admitted Wednesday to lying to investigators about sexually explicit texts sent to a subordinate during the hearing, but a move to uphold his termination failed in a 2-3 vote of Lafayette's Fire & Police Civil Service Board.
The board then unanimously voted to lighten his punishment to a 90-day suspension. Griffin will be entitled to back pay for the months he has not worked for LPD since being fired in January, with a carve out for his 90-day suspension.
"Obviously we are very pleased with the decision," Griffin's attorney, Allyson Melancon said after the board's vote. "We're even more pleased that it was unanimous. That's always important."
The subordinate was not asked to testify at Wednesday's board meeting. In a statement Wednesday afternoon, her attorneys wrote that the board's vote "sends a message that police officers at the Lafayette Police Department are allowed to lie during investigations ... (and) will ultimately be allowed back on the streets."
"(The subordinate) was not confident in this investigation from the beginning and the results today have proven as to why. She will now be forced to work in a hostile work environment with her accuser and his supporters," the statement reads.
"A divide amongst officers was created well before the start of this investigation and will now be even more prevalent as (Griffin) is being allowed back working as a police officer even after lying and admitting to lying during an internal affairs investigation."
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Griffin was fired in January after an investigation determined that he had repeatedly lied to investigators about sending the messages.
He denied the existence of any such messages in a written statement given to police at the start of the investigation and sought to prove there were no such messages by turning his phone over to police not long after.
Griffin was appointed interim chief by Mayor-President Josh Guillory in October 2021 and was suspended days later after an officer reported that he sent sexually explicit text messages to a different subordinate officer.
But a forensic examination of his phone and the phone of the subordinate involved determined that he had in fact sent messages to her of a sexually explicit nature.
In April 2021, Griffin sent the woman a text that said, "So I have a question." The woman responded, "Sure, what's up?"
Griffin responded, "Is the p---- even good? #askingforafriend."
"Of course it is," she responded. "If the right (eggplant emoji) makes it nice and (water drops emoji)."
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A few texts later, Griffin asked the woman if he could get an "out of the shower pic also." The woman told investigators she had sent a text to him in January that was meant for another person. In the text, she said she would sneak a picture once she was out of the shower but immediately apologized for sending the text to the wrong person.
The woman responded to Griffin's request and said, "Oh u remember that." He said he did and when she sent a laughing face emoji, he replied "#waiting."
The woman said to appease his request, she sent a picture of her back. She was sitting in her bra and underwear. Her face is not in the photo.
She told investigators she sent the picture because Griffin would often ask her for naked photos and she thought sending it would placate him. She also told them she responded the way she did to his advances because she "did not want to anger (Griffin) and possibly jeopardize her position."
"She further advised that while she never informed him of her discomfort, she did feel uncomfortable," the investigators wrote in their report.
Interim Lafayette Police Chief Monte Potier determined after the investigation that Griffin had violated several department protocols, including prohibitions against employee harassment and lying to investigators but not sexual harassment, and determined that firing him was the right course of action.
Griffin appealed that decision to the board, but on Wednesday admitted through his attorney that he had repeatedly lied to investigators and misled them about the existence of the sexual messages.
"While Griffin initially denied involvement in exchange, after thoughtful reflection he stipulates that he was not forthright about the (text) exchanges of July 1, 2021, and April 15, 2021, did in fact occur, in addition to others," Melancon said.
Potier said that as the woman's superior officer, Griffin should not have engaged in any of the messaging and that as the city's top cop he should never have lied to investigators.
"Whether it was the chief or the lowest officer, I would have done the same thing," Potier said.
But members of the board repeatedly questioned whether termination was reasonable punishment for engaging in harassment and lying to investigators.
"I have no knowledge, and I've worked with a police department for 30-plus years, of anyone who has been terminated just for lying in an internal affairs investigation," board member Paul Mouton said.
Griffin ultimately made an appeal to human error at Wednesday's hearing, saying that he was scared, embarrassed and fearful when he was confronted over the text messages.
"I want to say my sincere apologies to my family, to the community, to my colleagues, and to the men and women of the police department," he said. "I deeply regret my participation in these text messages. My actions have caused personal and professional embarrassment."
In a statement after Wednesday's vote, City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan said that Lafayette Consolidated Government is weighing its options and the city's best interests as it considers whether to appeal the board's decision to the 15th Judicial District Court.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Board overturns firing of former Lafayette Police Chief Wayne Griffin