PURCELLVILLE, Va. (APRIL 11, 2018) — The Town of Purcellville today released the Public Report of Audit and Investigation (Phase 1) by the law firm of Wilson Elser and Chief Timothy Longo, Sr. (Ret.). The Public Report summarizes the investigation team’s findings with respect to the prior investigation of complaints about Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister.
Phase 1 of the audit into the investigation by Georgia Nuckolls focused on evaluating the methodologies and processes used by Nuckolls to investigate the complaints against Chief McAlister. The investigation team of Wilson Elser and Chief Longo concluded that there were “serious deficiencies” in the investigative methods and processes used, which “undermine[d] the reliability and accuracy of the [Nuckolls’] Report.”
In their 23-page summary Public Report, the team found that Nuckolls’ investigation did not “represent a fair, unbiased, and thorough investigation.” Additionally, the team could not verify Nuckolls certifications or experience, and found that her business, ProHR, is a defunct Virginia corporation without a business license. The team attempted to interview Nuckolls as part of its investigation but she declined.
As a result, the report recommended that the report made by Nuckolls “should be disregarded in its entirety.”
Wilson Elser and Chief Longo are conducting an independent investigation into the allegations made against Chief McAlister. Until this investigation is concluded, Chief McAlister will remain on paid administrative leave. The summary Public Report is available here. (also attached)
The Wilson Elser investigation concluded that Vanegas failed to properly manage and failed to exercise proper judgment with respect to the investigation into the complaints about Chief McAlister. The report recommended the immediate termination of Mr. Vanegas. Based upon this recommendation, the Town Council terminated Vanegas effective immediately.
In regards to Town Attorney Sally Hankins, investigators determined there was “no merit to allegations” that Hankins sexually harassed Mr. Vanegas. In addition, the investigation concluded that Ms. Hankins did not retaliate against Mr. Vanegas, and determined that town employee complaints against Hankins were “frivolous” and “meritless.”
Based upon the findings of the investigation, the Town Council has asked Hankins to return, fully reinstated, to her position as Town Attorney.
Investigators concluded that the grounds for which HR Manager Sharon Rauch was placed on administrative leave “cannot be substantiated.” The investigators determined that Rauch followed all proper procedures in her duties, that the Town did not incur any liability due to her actions, and that there was no mismanagement of records and files. The report concluded that alleged issues with her performance “appear to have been manufactured and baseless.”
Based upon the findings of the investigation, the Town Council has asked Rauch to return, fully reinstated, to her position as HR manager.
“We, as the Purcellville Town Council, are pleased to be bringing the investigation of a variety of allegations made in regard to a number of town employees to a close,” said Purcelleville Mayor Kwasi Fraser.
“When we retained our investigative team in December 2017, we directed them to provide a thorough, unbiased, and detailed investigation. As a result of that directive, they uncovered information and concerns that were never brought to the Town Council’s attention. Because of the mismanagement of the prior investigation and the unreliability of Ms. Nuckolls’ report, we have decided that Wilson Elser and Chief Longo will continue in their investigative role,” Fraser continued.
“Further, we are releasing the summary Public Report to our citizens and explaining the subsequent actions that were taken as a result of the audit and investigation to illustrate that not only are we committed to acting in the best interests of Purcellville, but also in a transparent fashion. We look forward to a final resolution upon completion of the re-investigation. As always, we continue to ensure that Purcellville’s future remains bright,” said Fraser.