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OCEMS director resigns

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

A widely circulated, sexually explicit e-mail conversation between the director of Oldham County Emergency Medical Services and an employee forced board members to suspend the director Friday. Three days after his paid suspension began, board members asked Col. Lance Vincent to resign. OCEMS Board Chair David Thompson said Vincent, a 12-year veteran of OCEMS, was placed on paid administrative leave Friday pending investigation of an explicit e-mail conversation between Vincent and an OCEMS employee Jan. 25 through Feb. 2. During his leave, Vincent surrendered his OCEMS-issued vehicle, and he was prohibited from responding to EMS runs, communicating with on-duty OCEMS personnel and visiting OCEMS property, Thompson said. Board members asked Vincent to engage only in courteous conversation with off-duty EMS employees in order to quiet the rumor mill, Thompson said. No part of Vincent’s correspondence with the employee originates from an OCEMS e-mail account. Thompson would not confirm the name or sex of the employee listed in the e-mails, as he or she does not face disciplinary action, he said. The messages were exchanged between private Google-mail accounts, according to copies obtained by The Oldham Era. But word of the pair’s explicit conversations spread quickly as the messages were forwarded to more than 60e-mail addresses accessible atwww.OldhamCountyEMS.com. “Somebody went to great efforts to cause me a lot of pain, which they definitely succeeded, and they watched me crumble,” Vincent said. The experience has been toughest on his family, he said. Vincent resigned Monday afternoon and employees learned of his resignation Monday night. Thompson said Maj. Michael Heilman will serve as interim director until a permanent replacement is chosen. An unknown individual who gained access to Vincent’s e-mail account sent the conversations to all@OldhamCountyEMS.com near lunchtime Feb. 4, distributing messages to 65 e-mail addresses associated with OldhamCountyEMS.com. Several message recipients described the e-mail to The Oldham Era as “soft core” pornography, due to a seven-paragraph description of a sexual encounter included in themessages. OldhamCountyEMS.com e-mail accounts were shut down the same day and as of Tuesday afternoon, employee access had not been restored, Thompson said. Vincent said he lacks solid evidence to prove who accessed his personal e-mail account. Very few people knew his Google mail account existed, he said, and it is impossible that he inadvertently forwarded the messages. He never used the account for work-related purposes, he said. “With me being a director, I walked around with a target across my back, and I accepted that,” he said. Vincent said he plans to hire a private investigator to find out who compromised his account. Days after the e-mail circulated to employees, some county officials received paper copies of the e-mail conversation. Several members of Oldham County Fiscal Court received Priority Mail packages from an anonymous sender last week. The package included eight pages of an e-mail conversation between Vincent and the employee, and a three-page printout of a sexual harassment policy from the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. According to the commission, sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual conduct. In a cover letter included in the package, the senders claim they concealed their identity in fear of retaliation from Vincent due to his service on a state EMS board. He was appointed by former Gov. Ernie Fletcher to serve on the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services. Vincent said Tuesday his resignation from OCEMS requires resignation from the board. On Tuesday, The Oldham Era obtained copies of the e-mail forwarded to all@OldhamCountyEMS.com.The conversation includes messages exchanged between lancevincent9@gmail.com and anana.mrs@gmail.com on Jan. 25, Jan. 26, Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, alluding to a sexual relationship. Vincent said he was sick to his stomach when he learned the messages were distributed to his staff. He shut down his Google mail account the same day it was compromised. All of Vincent’s Google messages were deleted after they were forwarded to his staff, he said, and he said he’s not sure if any messages were altered before they were forwarded to his staff. Vincent grew up in Oldham County and said he has a lot of pride in OCEMS, a service he helped create. He hopes to return to OCEMS in the future and work as a paramedic. Tuesday he spoke of the close-knit atmosphere at OCEMS he believes contributed to his solid leadership. He said he knows names of his employees’ children and even the names of their pets – he takes great pride in being so close to the staff. “I’m devastated. Totally, totally devastated,” Vincent said. “That service was my life ... Ask my employees and they’ll tell you, ‘Lance was Oldham County EMS.’”

E-mail us about this story at:jstoess@oldhamera.com