RALEIGH, N.C. — A former North Carolina state trooper wants his job back after being fired for having a drunken sexual encounter with another trooper's wife in the back seat of a car headed home from a Christmas party.
The woman's husband was in the front seat.
Timothy J. White of Salisbury was dismissed from the N.C. Highway Patrol on June 2 after he continued to contact the other trooper's wife, despite being told by his superiors to stay away from her, according to documents on file at the state Office of Administrative Hearings.
White, 39, was terminated for personal conduct unbecoming of an officer. He immediately filed an appeal on the grounds that he was being treated more harshly than other troopers accused of similar behavior.
Since 1998, state records show at least 27 cases of sexual misconduct by troopers either on or off duty. While some troopers were fired, several who had extramarital affairs or behaved inappropriately were given lesser punishments and later received promotions.
The incident that led to White's dismissal occurred after a Dec. 17 party at a bar in Mocksville, southwest of Winston-Salem. White, a patrol veteran who had been promoted to the rank of sergeant earlier that month, said he consumed about nine beers at the party. He then had a sexual encounter with the wife of Master Trooper Eric B. Perdue, according to the state report.
Perdue was White's subordinate and is listed as a witness to the incident. A third trooper was driving them home.
Reached Friday at his home, White disputed the state's account that he engaged in a sex act, saying that he only remembers kissing the woman and that she was pressing against him in the back of the car. He said Perdue's wife made advances toward him and he regrets not resisting. But, he added, nothing he did was worthy of his being fired.
"She was very impaired that night," White said. "So was her husband. So was I."
Perdue, who separated from his wife in January, said Monday he had been instructed by a state lawyer not to comment about the case. He said he has also asked his wife not to respond to calls from the media. Efforts to reach his wife were unsuccessful.
He indicated the couple might get back together.
"We're trying to work things out," said Perdue, 32.
White said the Christmas party was held at a bar that was closed to the public for the event, attended by law enforcement officers, attorneys and magistrates.
"All I can tell you is that it was an off-duty Christmas party," White said. "I didn't drive. I didn't violate any state laws. They're saying I should have stopped her."
According to state records, White kissed and groped Perdue's wife, who then performed oral sex on White. The incident did not occur in a state-owned vehicle, and the troopers involved were not in uniform, according to a patrol spokesman.
The case is the latest in a string of incidents involving sex and the Highway Patrol, which has more than 1,800 officers.
In an April 2008 report, a team of outside consultants hired to examine the agency's culture recommended increased ethics training for troopers, especially regarding appropriate expectations for sexual behavior.
"[The consultants] consistently heard from many veteran troopers that certain ethical lapses -- particularly sex on duty -- used to be tolerated and treated far more leniently than it is today," said the report. "Indeed, during the focus group sessions, we heard patrol members of all ranks make comments to the effect that sex-on-duty has traditionally been perceived (or at least jokingly referred to as) an expected fringe benefit."