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Lakeland fire inspector latest to quit in city's sex scandal | News

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Lakeland fire inspector latest to quit in city's sex scandal

Lakeland, FL -- The sex scandal that has rocked Lakeland's Police Department has now spilled over to the Fire Department as well.

David Bivens, a long-time fire inspector who also serves as a reserve police officer in the city, is the latest to call it quits.

Bivens was about to take part in a pre-disciplinary hearing Thursday morning, but instead handed in a one-line resignation letter.

He is accused of having sex with former co-worker Sue Eberle, and perhaps most disturbingly, on one occasion at the funeral for a fallen police officer.

Lakeland Fire Chief Gary Ballard says given the evidence, if Bivens hadn't resigned, he'd have fired him.

"I was going to recommend termination, yes," said Chief Ballard.

Bivens, who spent 23 years with Lakeland, was also a reserve police officer at the Lakeland Police Department.

He becomes part of a growing number who've now resigned, retired or been shown the door.

Earlier this week, Sergeants David Woolverton and Rusty Longaberger - who'd been dismissed - filed a grievance through their union demanding their jobs back.

But since Bivens is resigning, City Manager Doug Thomas says Bivens won't be given that option.

"As far as we're concerned, there's no further appeal process for his separation from the city," said Thomas.

Because Bivens was also a police officer, Thomas said they would also forward their findings to the FDLE, which can decide whether Bivens will be able to serve as a police office in the state.

Bivens is one of more than a dozen city workers named in a stinging State Attorney's report in which Sue Eberle, a civilian employee at Lakeland PD, alleges sexual harassment and abuse.

Bivens admitted to having sex with Eberle in a parking lot after the funeral for Lakeland police officer Arnulfo Crispin, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2011.

"I'm disgusted with that," said Chief Ballard, "and the fact that disrespects one of our public servants we were trying to honor for that particular day and what had taken place."

Bivens' resignation from the fire department may suggest the workplace culture which has been so highly criticized at Lakeland PD, may well reach into other city departments as well.

The Mayor's commission looking into the scandal meets for the second time on Friday. The city manager vows to make himself and Police Chief Lisa Womack available to the remaining panel members.

Thomas also revealed Thursday that their own investigation had identified 12 city employees outside the walls of the Lakeland PD who may have been involved in the sex scandal.

Six, he said, have since resigned or retired. Another six who are still working for the city were being questioned this week.

Their discipline, if any, was expected to be announced by the end of next week, said Thomas.

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