ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An Orlando prosecutor who was criticized for social media comments referring to drug addicts as "crack hoes" is being reassigned to a different division while the State Attorney's Office conducts a review.
Kenneth Lewis, a prosecutor for Orange and Osceola counties, has been moved from the homicide and major felonies sections to the general felonies section.
Lewis will no longer oversee violent crime cases, and instead will deal with general felony crimes, like robberies.
Channel 9 uncovered some of Lewis' Facebook posts last week and brought them to the attention of State Attorney Jeff Ashton.
Along with the crack hoes comment on Facebook, Lewis also showed support for embattled L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and said Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor should be a fast-food worker.
In announcing the Lewis' reassignment, Ashton's office said Lewis must undergo sensitivity training.
In an email, Ashton directed Linda Drane Burdick, the lead prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case, to review all of Lewis’ cases over the past two years.
Specifically, Ashton asked her to review cases involving African-Americans, Hispanics, drug addicts or prostitutes.
Once the review is finished, Ashton said Lewis may return to his former position.
"I think I've been reprimanded enough by having to endure this press conference," Lewis said last week.
Lewis' comment on his Facebook page that sparked outrage read: "Happy mothers day (sic) to all the crack hoes out there. It's never too late to tie your tubes, clean up your life and make (a) difference to someone out there that deserves a better mother."
Lewis has offered apologies for posting the comment on Facebook.
"I used a poor choice of word in using the term 'crack hoe' instead of 'drug addict,'" Lewis said. "To those I unintentionally offended, I offer you my deepest apologies. I regret it was misinterpreted by some."
WFTV learned the State Attorney’s Office may implement a new social media policy as a result of Lewis’ controversial posts.
Ashton, who initially said the comments were free speech, made an abrupt change, deciding Lewis would be temporarily reassigned to a lower level unit within the state attorney's office.
On Thursday Ashton ordered Lewis to undergo sensitivity training and to be reassigned while supervisors review cases he prosecuted going back two years. Those cases involve victim was either black, Hispanic, drug addicted or a prostitute.
"He's not being punished," Ashton said. "Mr. Lewis is being reassigned to what we call a general felony position."
Lewis will see no reduction in his nearly $100,000 salary.
"I think it is best for the confidence that people have in our office that Mr. Lewis not be at the forefront of major cases," Ashton said.
But community activist Lawanna Gelzer, with the National Action Network, said public confidence is now shaken.
"My reaction is, 'Do you think we'll forget?' No, we want him out of office," said Gelzer.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Rick Wallsh said Lewis' reassignment won't be immediate because he is in the midst of prosecuting cases already set for trial.
Wallsh told Boone that the reassignment will last only as long as it takes for supervisors to review all of Lewis' cases to make sure bias did not play a role in any of his actions in the cases he has prosecuted.
Nichol Rolle told Boone she was born addicted to crack cocaine, and said she's not sure the temporary reassignment is enough.
"I think it's a step in the right direction," Rolle said. "But I don't think that he can continue working in a division where can prosecute these women, because he clearly has bias and it's not fair."
Rolle said she doesn't expect to see changes.
"Do I think sensitivity classes will change him? Probably not," said Rolle.
The Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida told Boone they are asking for a meeting with Ashton.
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