A computer trespassing charge against a former Clayton Sheriff’s Office chaplain was dismissed Tuesday, seven months after he called Sheriff Victor Hill an “evil man” in an email.
Rodney Williams was fired from the department on Feb. 2, but found himself facing a warrant for his arrest three days later because of the critical email of Hill he sent his former co-workers on the sheriff’s office computers on his last day.
“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 [sic] of any leader in the Sheriff’s office,” Williams wrote in the email.
Williams said he was fired because he refused to comply with Hill’s decision last year that chaplains would become deputies and because he did not want to promote Nixle, an emergency notification service that some say Hill has used as a campaign tool. Williams also acknowledged he was also terminated because he watched the Atlanta Falcons on his work computer, though he said he still got work done.
After the email, Hill charged that Williams was trespassing on the department’s computer and issued a warrant for his arrest. Williams turned himself in four days later.
The Superior Court of Clayton County concluded Tuesday that Williams had not trespassed because his Sheriff’s Office email account had not yet been deleted when he sent the message, nor had his access been terminated.
“An argument can made that the defendant did not access the computer network without authority based on his ability to access the server,” the court said. “Furthermore the defendant had not been explicitly informed that he was not allowed to access the email.”
Williams said he felt vindicated by the dismissal of the charge.
“I’m happy that it’s over,” he said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.