A criminal investigation has been launched into the dealings of Sheriff Darryl Daniels and the Clay County Sheriff's Office after an extramarital affair blossomed into a larger scandal.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement could not confirm what its investigation is specifically about, but they did say their investigation has moved past the review stage to the investigation stage because of the criminal nature of the allegations.
The extramarital affair initially came to light as part of an Internal Affairs report into Duval County corrections officer Cierra Smith, who Daniels supervised when he was the Jail Director.
Smith confirmed having sexual relations with Daniels when he was a jail director, but it still rocked the Clay County Sheriff's Office. First Coast News was told by a source, "his high-level staff has lost confidence in him."
Daniels has declined multiple requests for comment after the affair came to light but did issue this limited statement on Twitter:
“I want to take the time to acknowledge a series of personal incidents. I have, in the past, made decisions in my personal life that I truly regret. I sincerely apologize for the embarrassment my past personal decisions have caused. My family has asked that I not discuss private matters in public, so I will not be commenting further on the personal aspects of this issue.
As I have told the Clay County Sheriff’s deputies and staff, I want you to know that every day of my career I have put on my uniform and done my level best to serve the people whom I am sworn to protect. It is an honor to serve with these members.
To the citizens of Clay County, I reiterate my mission: to keep you safe and battle crime in your neighborhoods.”
The Fraternal Order of Police in Clay County says it is aware of the investigation and hasn't had any deputies request representation. Meanwhile, the lodge in Duval County gave First Coast News the following explanation regarding Sheriff Daniels:
“When members retire from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in good standing after 20 years of service, they receive a lifetime membership in Jacksonville FOP Lodge 5-30. This is what Sheriff Daniels received. It does not include legal representation. The Jacksonville FOP is not involved in this case but we wish Sheriff Daniels well during this FDLE investigation.”
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office anticipates it might make a statement at a later time.
First Coast News is reaching out to Florida Gov. Ron Desantis to learn whether or not he plans to take action against Daniels.