A former Clayton County Sheriff’s Department chaplain says he is facing computer trespass charges because he called Victor Hill an “evil man” in an email after he was fired.
Rodney Williams said the incident began last Friday after Hill, Clayton’s controversial sheriff, fired him because of a number of disputes between the two. That included a recent requirement Hill instituted that chaplains become deputies, Williams said.
Because the chaplains would have to carry guns, Williams refused, he told Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Jones, who broke the story.
“I don’t see anybody seeing me as a chaplain when I got a gun pointed at them,” Williams said to Jones on Tuesday.
Williams said he also butted heads with Hill over a requirement that chaplains promote an emergency notification service — Nixle — that some say Hill has used as a campaign tool. In addition, Williams said he also lost his job because he watched the Atlanta Falcons on his work computer, though he said he still got work done.
On Monday, Williams fired off an email to his former colleagues calling Hill an “evil man” with an “evil agenda.” That led Hill to issue a warrant for Williams’ arrest on computer trespass charges because he was using the department’s property after he was terminated, Williams told the news station.
The Clayton Sheriff’s Department did not respond to requests for comments.
“Sheriff Hill’s toxic leadership (i.e. harassment, retaliation, targeting an employee to cause a hostile work environment by monitoring activities, sideshow investigations and creating a schedule to force him to resign) is the worse of any leader in the Sheriff’s office,” Williams wrote in the email.
Williams turned himself in on Tuesday and was released the next day on a $5,000 bond. He will have a preliminary hearing on the charges on March 1.
Hill, who is very popular with Clayton constituents and won re-election in 2016 with 63 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, has been at the center of controversy for years.
He fired 27 employees immediately after taking office in 2005, placing snipers on the sheriff’s department roof as they were escorted out. In 2012, he was accused of several counts of racketeering, theft by taking and making false statements, though he would later be acquitted of all charges.
And in 2015, he accidently shot a friend while demonstrating “police tactics” during a date. Last year, his law enforcement certification was put on probation for two years by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.
More recently he has been linked to Mitzi Bickers, a Clayton Sheriff’s chaplain who has been under the microscope of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for her potential her role in the bribery scandal at Atlanta City Hall. Bickers has not been charged in the probe.
Terry Norris, a spokesman for the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, said sheriff’s departments make individual decisions whether to deputize chaplains and that it is not unusual for chaplains to serve in that role. Many deputies have become chaplains and some chaplains carry licensed weapons as a personal choice.
David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, said clergy can struggle with deciding whether carrying a weapon violates their religious values.
“Jesus said, ‘No one can serve two masters,’” he said. “The sheriff’s chaplain’s role has that problem built in. You have the police telling you you have to do one thing and God telling you to do something else. That creates a crisis on conscience.”
Williams told Channel 2 he thinks the sheriff is trying to destroy him.
“He wants to make me suffer, absolutely,” Williams said of Hill to Channel 2. “As much as he possibly can.”
Staff writers Scott Trubey and Dan Klepal contributed to this report