Publisher's note: If anyone finds fault with the veracity of these well considered words by former Chief Deputy Harry Meredith, we implore you to please take issue with what Mr. Meredith considers to be true right here on BCN, either by comment or by posted article, and you will receive all the space that is reasonable to refute these allegations.
These articles from Chief Deputy Harry Meredith, Ret. are showing a consistent pattern of data, and an intent to express what he believes to be true. The entirety of these ongoing posts can be found archived here.
I took no pleasure, in my previous articles, in exposing Ernie's lies to a federal Judge because it brings shame to the Sheriff's Office, the people of Beaufort County and all Sheriffs in the State of North Carolina. I did get some measure of satisfaction in exposing his use of tax payer dollars to enrich his personal and political friends because the people deserve to know what kind of man the current Sheriff is instead of what he professes to be. Writing "In God We Trust"
on his cars and trying to buy loyalty and silence with arbitrary raises and position reclassifications will only keep maligned staff quiet for a short while. Ernie's veneer of a religious, God-fearing benevolent leader is starting to peel and crack. Current and former members of his staff have decided his abuse of power will only get worse as he becomes more tyrannical with each passing day.
One of the most traumatizing forms of sexual harassment is unwanted physical touching. This behavior can make the victim feel demoralized and intimidated which leads to more control over the victim, especially when this conduct is done in a public setting and no one steps up to support the victim. This hostile work environment is created by hugging, touching, rubbing, massaging or grooming the victim. It does not have to be strictly sexual in nature but does make the victim and others uncomfortable and is obviously inappropriate workplace behavior. The workplace should be free of harassing behavior, but some powerful people abuse their position to get what they want.
Predators like this wield a lot of power and control in their world. People like this do not stand out from others as you would imagine. They cement their power and dominance over others because most people do not like controversy or facing possible repercussions from the man that holds the victim's career and financial wellbeing in his hands. People like Ernie thrive in a world of controlled silence, and the only way to help the females he preys on is to uncover and expose his behavior to help those that are not able to speak for themselves.
Do I expect Ernie to ever change his behavior? I do not. As you can see from his actions with the commissioners, he thinks a lot of himself since he believes he is the smartest man in the room. He likes to tell other Sheriffs how to successfully run their Offices, yet Coleman always plays the victim: He is being defunded
. He is being sued numerous times unjustly. Any poor decision he makes he tries to cover up by claiming political or religious persecution. He is never at fault. I am sure he will claim the ladies in his Office never told him his actions were offensive. His defense will be ignorance, which is fitting for him but not believable.
A number of years ago, a father of a 14 year old girl came to the Sheriff's Office because he was concerned a Washington Police Officer was sexually abusing her and several of her friends. This was not an unusual case for me so, even though I was in charge of Investigations at the time, I decided to take the case myself. I could certainly see the difficulty in bringing this case to a successful conclusion because it did involve young girls and a respected police officer and the wife of another police officer. I was able to complete the investigation within a week with hard work and one simple mistake the Officer made. What could that one mistake be that made the case easy to solve and prosecute? The Officer had to have an audience to complete the thrill and demonstrate his dominance over those girls.
The same is true of Ernie Coleman. With each passing day this lecherous tyrant continues to harass, objectify and inappropriately touch his female staff members. For the last seven years he has developed a culture of harassment and deception. The man is in his 60's and should know better, but he has convinced himself, and many of the local elected politicians, that as a constitutional officer he has a position of authority that can not be challenged. I am here to tell him today that is not true. The uninformed, gullible people of this county put him in office, but an informed public can rid the county of this power-hungry, toxic little man.
What in the world has Ernie done now that deserves this strong language? First, he likes to comment on the body parts of his communicators as they walk by him and his Deputies. He focuses on their butts. He may comment on a nice butt, a flat butt, or a wide load butt. Again, he does this in front of other staff members to show them he has complete dominance over everyone. For these ladies, there was no sexual contact but there was objectification and a desire to diminish them in the eyes of the young Deputies. He showed the Deputies what a big, powerful man he is. This is his key ... power. I didn't say Ernie had sex with these ladies because it is all about power for him. He lets his staff know through observation there is nothing anyone can do to stop him. He has trained them to submit to his authority.
Now we can move to at least one young member of his front office staff. Ernie has targeted at least one young female staff member to groom. I don't mean groom as in to prepare a staff member to take a more challenging role in the Office. I mean groom as in to make neat and attractive. He brushes her hair with his hands and moves it away from her face and hooks it behind her ears. He also massages her shoulders and back as he talks to the Deputies. Remember my earlier story about the Washington Police Officer? Ernie does this in front of others to demonstrate his dominance and authority over every member of his Office. What does Chief Deputy Charlie Rose have to say about this? He tells the Deputies that feel uncomfortable to keep their mouths shut. There are many Deputies, both current and former, that have witnessed Ernie's behavior. There are other staff members, both current and former, that have witnessed Ernie's behavior.
Let's speak briefly to the men reading this article. Would it be hard to repress your inner caveman feelings in the scenario above? Think about this. How many of you would allow another man to tenderly touch your wife's face? How many of you would allow another man to brush your wife's hair from her face with his hand? How many of you would stand there as another man massaged your wife's shoulders and back in front of other men? I doubt there are many. How hard would it be to not go to the Sheriff's Office and EXPLAIN how you feel about it?
Actually, it is harder than you think. What is a female staff member to do? She has seen Deputies that tell the truth fired. She has seen Deputies that assault others receive no punishment. She has seen the Sheriff belittle and insult other elected officials without consequence. She has seen the Sheriff fire staff that do not share his political affiliation and views. She has seen the Sheriff fire Deputies because a family member was on the School Board and did not vote
the way the Sheriff wanted. She knows the Sheriff has lied to a federal Judge, all without consequences. No public official has spoken out against his actions. How little and inconsequential she must feel under the weight of all of this. If her husband takes action, he faces jail time under this lying Sheriff. There is, however, a day of reckoning coming.
She even knows the media supports Ernie's actions. The Washington Daily News and WITN were quick to give Ernie space to vilify Sheppard and Franks when they filed lawsuits. Now that the truth has come out, with both Deputies winning their lawsuits, neither news source will acknowledge it. WITN is a corporate entity that has no ties or feelings for this community and hides behind corporate anonymity. So WITN has the same value and respect as most main stream media.
The Washington Daily News, however, bills itself as the Voice of the Pamlico. President and Publisher Ashley Vansant prints the mission statement in the paper every week. I hear that if you tell a lie often enough, people will accept it as the truth. Here are a couple of lies masquerading as a mission statement from Ashley Vansant and his paper:
- To serve the public interest by holding government and public officials accountable.
- To always report news timely, accurately and without bias.
- To edit and publish with integrity.
- To take an active leadership role in the community.
Ashley told me they could not print the story about Ernie lying to a federal Judge until they completed their research
. It took me ten minutes to read the court case online and Ashley is still hiding the story. Wasn't the lawsuit against the Sheriff a Top Ten story in 2019? Ashley does not like the way the lawsuit ended so he remains silent. He has hidden Part II of my article also. When you see Ashley, ask why he is hiding the truth about the Sheriff from the public. Does Ashley really want the public to make an uninformed decision in the next election? What has Ernie promised him or threatened him with? At best, Ashley is a hypocrite. The least he could do is remove his mission statement if he is going to ignore it. Ashley should at least be energetic enough to ask Ernie to respond to my articles to give him an opportunity to deflect, attack and lie. Ashley helped Ernie with Sheppard and Franks. Why not help Ernie now by giving him space in the paper to respond? The County Compass printed my articles. Why does Ashley refuse to do the same?
If it wasn't for Beaufort County Now
, the local media would be successful in hiding the true character of the man occupying the Office of Sheriff and seeking another term so he can continue to exploit the weak. I am writing as a concerned citizen wanting nothing but the truth about our elected officials made public and the best for this county.
I leave the reader and Sheriff Coleman with this:
1Timothy 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.
Harry W. Meredith, Jr.