A Vermont district attorney may be impeached after colleagues accuse him of making repeated insensitive and demeaning remarks.
The Vermont Department of State Attorneys and Sheriffs released on Thursday a redacted version of the report of a criminal investigation of Franklin County State Attorney John Lavoie. Lavoie spent years as a prosecutor, but he was only elected to the top position in Franklin County last November. Now he is facing a serious backlash after a long career of “banter.”
Lavoie has been accused of making a lot of comments about women’s physical appearance. He is accused of making a comment on a colleague’s “magnificent bobs” as well as repeatedly calling another woman a “whore,” and possibly even a slutbag.
The report claimed that he regularly used the “c-word” and criticized women’s eating habits and weight. Lavoie, the report claims, “replied by pinching [a woman’s] midsection and telling her ‘I don’t think you need food today'” when she asked what to have for lunch. Lavoie was allegedly heard saying, “Oh yeah, these are for fat people just like you” when an employee asked about purchasing exercise equipment.
The report claimed that Lavoie was a Democrat who did not limit his politically incorrect humor only to women. The report also claimed that Lavoie crudely joked about a woman being a lesbian when she went on a trip with her female friend and that he told another person that “there is nothing worse than a… Irish Jew.” He was accused of using the N-word. However, the report said that there was no evidence to support this claim.
Lavoie was alleged to have used “f***tard” and other variations of “retard” in his reports. He once said, “I guess you’re not the office retard. Maybe you’re just autistic. Or maybe it’s just Aspergers,” to a staff member. He allegedly even used it to refer to a client who had limited cognitive abilities.
His humor caused stomachaches in some of the people who were targeted by Lavoie. Some people allegedly cried, changed their eating habits, or sought counseling.
Lavoie admitted to some of the more offensive accusations but denied others. He positioned himself as a man from an earlier era. He also said that he always had a sense of humor and that all his jokes were meant to be funny. “These aren’t people I met two or three months ago. He said, “These are people that I have known for over 20 years.”
He told reporters that he was the same person he had been for all those years. “I guess I should apologize now that I am suddenly out of step with the times, perhaps.”
Lavoie isn’t the only Franklin County official facing possible impeachment. The VT Digger reported that Sheriff John Grismore was also criticized for allegedly kicking a suspect who had been “shackled”. This alleged incident occurred during an interview before his election. Grismore, like Lavoie was elected in November last year and began his tenure as sheriff in January. Both men, despite being asked to resign, have refused.
House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, claimed she would appoint a special investigation committee to look into both Lavoie’s and Grismore’s conduct. Voting for impeachment could be tricky, as the legislative session is about to come to an end. Since 1976, no Vermont official has ever been impeached. And in almost 240 years (since 1786), no Vermont official has ever been convicted of an impeachment.