Carter County deputy facing decertification, possible criminal charges apologizes

CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Nearly a year after a Carter County Sheriff’s Office deputy sent explicit messages to a woman and changed her warrant, temporarily allowing her to avoid arrest, it’s still unclear if he’ll face criminal charges. Because of that, the sheriff’s office continues to refuse to release the full details of the case to News Channel 11.

We’ve requested those details, which we consider public records, multiple times over the last six months. They relate to Corbin Lispcomb. The sheriff’s office said three separate women filed complaints against the former deputy. One of those complaints resulted in the agency firing Lipscomb back in March and requesting the state take away his law enforcement certification, according to the sheriff’s office.

Nine months after his firing, his certification is still in limbo and so are possible criminal charges.

“This incident has shaken my entire world,” Lipscomb said during an August subcommittee hearing of Tennessee’s Peace Officers Standards Training Commission.

During that hearing, he urged members to let him keep his law enforcement certification.

“I understand exactly why it was wrong and I would like to apologize that I made this decision and all I’m really asking for is a second chance to prove it,” he said.

His apology follows the discovery of 60 pages worth of explicit messages and photos collected by the agency after a woman filed a complaint against Lipscomb, according to the sheriff’s office.

“On March 13, 2017 a female wanted person was arrested,” according to Chief Deputy James Parrish. “Upon her arrest, the female wanted person stated to the arresting officer that she was previously advised by Deputy Corbin Lipscomb that he had taken care of the warrant for her arrest and that she no longer needed to worry about it. She further stated that Deputy Lipscomb had previously responded to a call for service at her home and afterward repeatedly attempted to establish a personal romantic relationship with her, and she stated these attempts to establish a romantic relationship continued even after the arrest warrant was issued. Deputy Lipscomb also altered the address of the female wanted person in the Sheriff’s Office records management system and reportedly gave the female wanted person advice to not answer the door when Deputies came by her house to attempt service of the warrant and arrest her.”

Lipscomb maintains he changed the warrant, because he truly thought the woman moved, but then later admitted he again saw her at the same address and didn’t arrest her.

“I was under the information that she no longer resided at that house,” he said during the hearing. “One day I did see her. It’s probably the worst decision of my life that I’ve made up to his point by not putting her under arrest, because she was not 100% coherent.”

During that hearing he also admitted the two had “an improper relationship.”

“We did trade inappropriate text messages and phone calls,” he said.

His former supervisor Lt. Larry Vaughn shared his opinion on the matter in front of the subcommittee.

“The way I viewed it was he had intentionally misled other officers in the execution of an arrest warrant,” Lt. Vaughn said.

Lt. Vaughn also said the sheriff’s office documented two other complaints from women about Lipscomb.

For months, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office refused to give us Lipscomb’s investigative file. Initially, the agency only provided a termination document and a brief synopsis, telling us investigators inadvertently placed sensitive text messages in the file.

In June, the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury agreed with us that those messages and the entire file are in fact public as long as they are not part of a criminal investigation.

That’s when the sheriff’s office told us they were considering criminal charges. When contacted last month, First Judicial District Attorney General Tony Clark said that was news to him.

“I have had nothing reported to me about that officer,” Clark said in November. “I personally don’t even know who he is.”

Chief Deputy Parrish later said the agency was waiting until the POST Commission makes a decision about Lipscomb’s certification before deciding if there will be charges. That certification decision could come as soon as next month. The subcommittee referred Lipscomb’s case to the full Post Commission, which meets again in January.

While the sheriff’s office refuses to give us the file, saying “the inquiry continues,” we’ve since obtained it on our own and are still deciding our next step. Just yesterday, Chief Deputy Parrish said prosecutors may make a decision about criminal charges even sooner and said he would talk with us on-camera and release the full file once the case is resolved. He also shared his disappointment that action from the POST Commission’s dragged on for so long. In addition, he said the biggest concern he has about releasing the file is that it identifies the woman. Lipscomb declined to talk on-camera, but sent us a letter apologizing for his behavior.

“All I have in my cup for you is my apology for the uncomfortableness I am bringing to my wife and both our families and those who care for us in the community,” he said in the signed letter. “I also apologize to the men and women who serve our region faithfully for my defacement of the ‘thin blue line.'”

The Carter County Sheriff’s Office’s internal investigation ultimately found Lipscomb responsible for unbecoming and improper conduct and determined there was insufficient evidence to determine if he altered the warrant.

“He violated policy and was fired,” Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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