AUBURN — An Androscoggin County corrections officer has filed a civil suit against the county for access to an internal investigation into allegations of computer hacking.

Josiah Chick of Lewiston filed suit last week in Androscoggin County Superior Court after Sheriff Guy Desjardins declined Chick’s request for a copy of an internal investigation into allegations that Chick installed a keylogger program on computers at the jail to track keystrokes on the machines.

A keylogger program makes a record of all keystrokes and is more generally known as “spyware” because hackers use these programs to spy on what users are typing, including passwords and usernames.

According to Chick’s complaint, he was the subject of an internal investigation earlier this year and was “offered” a polygraph exam in lieu of termination. When he passed the polygraph, the computer terminal suspected to have a keylogger program installed was sent to the Maine State Police for analysis.

“The Maine State Police determined that no attempt had ever been made to access the computer system by (Chick) or anyone else” through a keylogger program, according to Chick’s complaint, and the investigation was closed with no finding of wrongdoing.

On May 2, Chick sent an authorization to Desjardins to give access to his personnel file, including any internal investigation regarding the computer accusations, to the Androscoggin County Employee Association, and specifically to association representative Delbert Mason.

In his authorization, Chick cited state law that guarantees employees a right to review their personnel files upon written request, arguing that would include the internal investigation even if it wasn’t part of his personnel file.

Desjardins declined to give Mason access, or to make copies of the internal investigation materials, citing the opinion of the county’s attorney that he had no authority to release that report.

In his response to Chick, the sheriff referenced a conversation between the two in which Chick asserted it was either state law or case law, through a court ruling, to include “all” internal investigations in personnel files and that employees have a right to obtain a copy of investigations, even if no disciplinary action was administered.

Desjardins wrote that he was not aware of any such law, nor was the county attorney, but if Chick or Mason were willing to provide a citation, the county would follow-up on Chick’s request. Until then, the internal investigation would not be released.

Chick’s suit seeks access to that investigation, and for reimbursement of attorney fees. He is being represented by Portland attorney John Chapman.

Androscoggin County has not filed its answer with the court.


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