Woman suing Orange Co. Sheriff's Office for $2 million



Channel 9 has learned that a woman is suing the Orange County Sheriff's Office for nearly $2 million.

The woman claims her former husband's new wife, who is an Orange County sheriff's deputy, used a law enforcement database to snoop into her personal life. The suit claims she used her department-issued computer to unlawfully look up information.

"She feels invaded. It's as if somebody broke into your house. They broke into a protected database," said attorney Sherri Dewitt.

This federal lawsuit says Orange County sheriff's deputy Kathleen Destefano admitted to searching the driver and vehicle information database without an official purpose.

The database she accessed holds driver's license and Social Security information.

Destefano's husband is also a deputy.

"We put our trust in law enforcement to protect us. They're doing exactly the opposite in this case," said Dewitt.

Destefano told sheriff's investigators there was no legitimate reason to search for information on Theresa Ela.

Ela's attorney said the deputy got into the system more than 200 times.

Destefano was suspended for a week-and-a-half, and put on probation for six months.

Ela is seeking $2,500 per violation plus $1 million in damages.

The suit also names the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles because they have control over the database as well.

The suit claims they did little to safeguard the database.

According to the woman, she emailed Sheriff Jerry Demings about Destefano and he told her he was sorry.

The Sheriff's Office would not comment on the lawsuit