Homicide investigator will not get job back after having sex with witness in Goforth case

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The decision was reached quickly in Craig Clopton's civil service hearing: he will not get his job back.

A fired homicide investigator who was investigating the murder of a police officer -- and who was part of a bizarre love triangle with a woman who was the alleged mistress of the murdered officer -- cannot get his job back, the Harris County Sheriff's Office Civil Service Commission ruled Thursday.

Harris County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Craig Clopton had been investigating the Aug. 28, 2015 shooting death of Deputy Darren Goforth.

The alleged mistress was an eyewitness to the cold-blooded killing and said in court documents that she had a "romantic relationship" with Goforth "during the preceding 15 months," Ted Oberg Investigates uncovered last year. Clopton admitted in the court records obtained by abc13 that his sexual contact with the woman took place "during the ongoing criminal investigation."

Clopton was relieved from duty on Oct. 9, 2015 -- hours after Ted Oberg Investigates broke the news of Clopton's affair with the eyewitness mistress.

RELATED: HCSO investigator relieved of duty after admitting having sex with witness to Goforth murder

Maj. Clint Greenwood, who oversees the Sheriff department's Internal Affairs Division, investigated Clopton's actions and said that he feared having Clopton as a part of the case -- and the department -- would turn the trial of a murdered police officer into a "circus." Indeed, many law enforcement and legal experts said that it was likely the scandal would taint the trial.

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A detective fired for allegedly having sex with a key witness to Dep. Goforth's murder will not get his job back.

"Unfortunately I believe that because of former Sgt. Clopton's actions, the focus... is going to be, 'Aren't you the homicide sergeant that had a relationship with the witness?'" Greenwood said after the hearing. "It's going to take away from what the focus should be: the death of Darren Goforth."

The man accused of killing Goforth, Shannon J. Miles, was arrested the day after the shooting. He was charged with capital murder and was sent to a state mental health facility earlier this month.

Clopton argued in the hearing that the sexual relationship with the mistress occurred while was off duty, and, for that reason, he should be reinstated.

"Had I knowingly did this on duty, I would walk away, I wouldn't be here," he told the commission members. "I wasn't trying to get paid to do that. It was a bad judgement call on my part to get involved with this individual, but I did not do that on duty."

He also said he should be rewarded for telling the truth about the affair, which he admitted to prosecutors after the mistress told them about Clopton's actions and showed them phone records to back her story.

Clopton did not ask to become a detective again. Instead, his lawyer asked the commission to let him be a jailer for one year so he could retire with full health insurance.

"I've apologized to those I need forgiveness from," he said.

SEE ALSO: Woman claiming to be Goforth's mistress speaks exclusively to abc13

Ultimately, the three commissioners unanimously upheld Clopton's removal from the sheriff's department.

Clopton, who is a husband and father, will continue to collect his pension. He said during the hearing that he had recently found employment outside of law enforcement.

"I've apologized to those I need forgiveness from," Clopton said.

Clopton can appeal the commission's decision to a civil judge. His lawyers did not say what they would do.

"Its an incredibly unfortunate situation all the way around," Greenwood said. "Hopefully the Goforth family will get some closure and some justice eventually, despite what happened in this case.

He also said that the public should take heart that the sheriff's office "acted decisively and very quickly" when Clopton's actions came to light.

The woman involved, who has only spoken with Ted Oberg Investigates, said she remains hurt and confused. She has yet to receive an apology from either Clopton or the sheriff's office.
Related Topics:
newsDeputy Darren Goforthsexhomicidehomicide investigationHarris County
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