ORLANDO, Fla. - Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said he didn't know details of what a woman was being investigated for when he hired her in January.
Diamond said Karen Peters will keep her new job in his office despite an investigation that revealed she engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior while she worked for the county's Human Resources Division.
A 31-page investigation report showed Peters improperly photographed a University of Central Florida intern and shared the photo in a sexually charged conversation on Facebook. Peters also sent photos and video of herself masturbating at her desk, the report said.
"This is disgusting," Diamond said. "This is wrong. We were appalled."
But he wasn't appalled enough to fire her.
Diamond stood up for his employee and blamed the county for not being more transparent.
"I think the county did not provide good information, and I think as a result, the county has placed us in an awkward position," he said.
Diamond said his office knew Peters was under investigation when she was hired, but he said his office didn't have details or know how serious the allegations were.
Peters' former supervisor was demoted after the report was completed. His annual base pay dropped by more than $7,000. Her pay was increased almost $5,000 when she resigned mid-investigation and accepted a position in Diamond's office.
Diamond said his office didn't know the details up front but received them during Peters' new-hire probationary period.
Diamond can still fire her -- no questions asked -- but he instead placed her on permanent probation, because he said she has hard-to-find technical skills.
"I believe in second chances, and I also think that with second chances comes responsibility," he said. "And the responsibility is knowing that you're walking on a very thin edge, and if you don't behave, you're going to be terminated instantly."
"It's not a second chance in the private sector. It's a second chance at a government position when taxpayer money is paying for this," Channel 9's Cierra Putman said. "Why should taxpayers be paying for this employee?"
"Like I said, she's somebody with very valuable skills," he said. "She's somebody that's doing a good job."
Diamond said his office will no longer hire job candidates who are under investigation at the workplace.
At the @OrangeCoFL BOCC meeting waiting to speak to @occompt Phil Diamond about his office’s decision to hire/retain a former OC HR worker accused of inappropriate conduct w/an intern & taking sexual pictures/video while at work @WFTV pic.twitter.com/FHRscYIGUw— Cierra Putman WFTV (@CPutman_WFTV) June 19, 2018
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