JAY — Delaware County officials accepted the resignation of one sheriff and swore in his successor Monday morning.
Sheriff Rick Littlefield — who took over the tumultuous sheriff's department as interim sheriff Nov. 22 after a sexual-abuse scandal that resulted in a $13.5 million civil rights judgment against the county — submitted his resignation during the weekly meeting of the county commissioners.
His wife, Special Judge Alicia Littlefield, swore in newly elected Sheriff Harlan Moore, but not before giving her husband a kiss.
Moore was elected to the sheriff's post in the Aug. 28 runoff primary election. He didn't draw an opponent for the November general election.
“As a county we owe you a lot,” Moore said to the outgoing sheriff. “I will try and make you proud.”
Rick Littlefield received applause and two standing ovations during the meeting. Many law enforcement officers were in attendance.
County Commissioner Doug Smith presented Littlefield a plaque that expressed the commissioners' appreciation and read, in part, “Your appointment came at a time when your management and governmental skills were put to the test and were so desperately needed.”
“We will be in forever indebted to you for your unselfish service to our county,” Smith said.
The multimillion dollar judgment was the result of a lawsuit filed by 15 former female inmates who said former Sheriff Jay Blackfox ignored their complaints that they were sexually abused and assaulted by a former jailer and jail administrator.
Blackfox, who was not the target of any sexual misconduct complaints, denied the former inmates' claims and resigned shortly after the judgment.
Lonnie Hunter, the former jail administrator, and Bill Sanders Sr., a volunteer deputy, were at the center of the lawsuit. Hunter was fired in November. Sanders died in November 2008.
An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the allegations is ongoing.