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Sexual misconduct allegations at Department of Corrections kept from public by bureaucracy

Bill Britt

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A top official at the Alabama Department of Corrections was allowed to retire quietly after reportedly confessing to inappropriate sexual relations with multiple women in his chain of command.

Grantt D. Culliver, Associate Commissioner with the Alabama Department of Corrections, retired effective Nov. 30, 2018, with his full state pension and a check for approximately $30,000 in unrealized benefits.

According to half a dozen individuals who spoke with APR on deep background, Culliver, who oversaw operations at all state correctional facilities, came under severe scrutiny after two complaints were filed accusing him of using his office to pressure women for sex.

One complaint from high-ranking officials at the Department of Corrections is said to have been ignored by the office of DOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn. But when the same allegations reached Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk, her administration demanded an immediate and thorough probe into Culliver’s conduct.

According to personnel records obtained by APR on Sep. 14, 2018, Culliver was placed on mandatory leave. The document reads in part, “Your absence from work is deemed to be in the best interest of the department due to the nature of the allegations against you.”

Culliver, over several years, used his position at DOC to coerce women under his command into sexual liaisons in return for promotions or other considerations, according to sources who spoke with APR. He also allegedly transferred females who rebuffed his advances. “If a female staffer didn’t have sex with him, she was transferred to Timbuktu, Alabama,” said one source. “And if you did, it meant promotions or other favors,” the source further stated.

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An investigation into allegations against Culliver was carried out by the office of Attorney General Steve Marshall. During the investigation, Culliver, according to those with knowledge of the inquiry, confessed to having sexual relations with six women under his authority.

Marshall handed over the results of his office’s investigation to DOC instead of filing a criminal complaint. DOC Commissioner Dunn then turned the findings over to Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton where it remains out of public view.

In 2009, the Alabama Supreme Court in “Alabama Department of Corrections v. Mary Barksdale et al” held that the results of these types of investigations are public records under the state’s Open Meetings Act and cannot be kept from public review once the investigation is complete. However, by placing the findings with the Alabama Ethics Commission, the public may never know the whole story behind Culliver’s forced retirement.

It is widely suspected that Dunn, Marshall and others conspired to cover up allegations against Culliver.

This would not be the first time Marshall protected a man accused of sexually assaulting a female staffer; and Dunn may have reasons of his own for preventing the public from knowing the details of Culliver activities since Dunn hired Culliver against the advice of others in the department.

Culliver was first promoted to associate commissioner in Aug. 2014, by then-DOC Commissioner Kim Thomas. He was removed from that position on Jan 29, 2015, by interim DOC Commissioner William G. Sharpe following Thomas’ mandatory retirement by then-Gov. Robert Bentley.

Allegations of sexual misconduct are reportedly why Sharpe demoted Culliver.

Dunn, according to APR sources, was aware of the claims against Culliver but promoted him once again to associate commissioner on June 1, 2015.

APR sources report that Dunn and Culliver met shortly before his reappointment and that Culliver assured Dunn that he would conduct himself according to DOC policy if reinstated to his former rank.

Ignoring the advice of those around him, Dunn reappointed Culliver to associate commissioner.

From 2015, until his hushed departure in Nov. 2018, Culliver was accused of having sex with women who worked under him at DOC. He retired with full benefits after the findings from Marshall’s office landed at the Ethics Commission, where they now languish far from public examination.

Dunn wrote in Culliver’s personnel file on Oct. 31, 2018, “Grantt D. Culliver is not recommended for reemployment due to alleged violation of Administrative. Reg. 208, Employee Standards of Conduct and Discipline.”

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