Fired Wife-Swapping Deputies Sue Sheriff

     SHREVEPORT, La. (CN) – Two Louisiana deputies who amicably swapped wives – for keeps – sued their sheriff, claiming he demoted, suspended and fired them for reasons that are none of his business.
     Brandon Coker and Michael Golden sued Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington and his Chief Deputy Charles Owens on Jan. 5 in Federal Court. Bossier Parish is just east of Shreveport.
     Coker and Golden have been friends since they were 16, they say in the lawsuit. Coker worked with the sheriff’s office since 2006 and Golden since 2003, until both were suspended last year.
     Coker married his wife Lauren in 2001 and Golden married his wife Fatah in 1996.
     The families hung out together at barbecues, children’s events, card games and gardening, the husbands say.
     Last year, both men fell in love with the other one’s wife. Both couples swapped spouses and “began living together as would a married couple” on Halloween last year, they say in the lawsuit. Both couples plan to divorce and remarry their new loves.
     The men say the entire arrangement was amicable, and supported by both families.
     But three days after setting up their new houses, they say, defendant Owens ordered them to tell Internal Affairs about their new living arrangements. Owens then, on the sheriff’s authority, put them both on unpaid leave for living with someone who was not their wife.
     Owens told them that once they moved way from their new fiancées, they could return to work but “would be demoted and sent to work at the Sheriff’s detention and correctional centers at a reduced rate of pay. The demotion would result in a loss of pay and prestige. Owens further instructed plaintiffs that even if they stopped the living arrangements and returned to work, a further condition of re-employment would be that the plaintiffs cease all contact with the woman with whom they were currently co-habitation out of wedlock until they obtained divorces.”
     They were given until Nov. 24, 2014, to move out, but did not. When they showed up that day, they say, they were told they no longer had jobs.
     They say the sheriff “has no rational interest in regulating the(ir) private living arrangements.”
     They seek reinstatement, back pay and benefits, an injunction and punitive damages for wrongful firing, constitutional violations, and humiliation and emotional distress.
     They are represented by Nelson Cameron.

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