Grainger Co. sheriff cites health issues as reason for absence

Grainger County sheriff cites health issues as reason for absence

Posted:
"I would like everyone to know that I can't control my health, and that I've done the very best I can do," Sheriff Scott Layel said in a candid interview Friday afternoon. "I would like everyone to know that I can't control my health, and that I've done the very best I can do," Sheriff Scott Layel said in a candid interview Friday afternoon.
Mayor Mark Hipsher believes the sheriff's absence is behind some of the problems at the jail. Mayor Mark Hipsher believes the sheriff's absence is behind some of the problems at the jail.
"I guess you could call it vandalism inside the jail, destroying county property, kicked out some windows," explained Mayor Hipsher. "I guess you could call it vandalism inside the jail, destroying county property, kicked out some windows," explained Mayor Hipsher.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

RUTLEDGE (WATE) - After months of rumors and questions about his health and absence from work, the Grainger County sheriff announced Friday he will not seek re-election next year.

Several months ago, 6 News looked into concerns raised by residents and county officials who said Sheriff Scott Layel wasn't showing up for work. The county mayor now says his absence is causing problems at the jail.

Sheriff Scott Layel says he hopes to set the record straight.

"I would like everyone to know that I can't control my health, and that I've done the very best I can do," Sheriff Scott Layel said in a candid interview Friday afternoon.

6 News caught up with the Sheriff at his home in Grainger County. Wearing a back brace, he admitted he hasn't been able to be at the jail and at work full time because of ongoing health issues.

"Today (Friday) I went to the doctor. I've got permanent nerve damage from back surgery last November in my left leg, makes my foot numb and I can't plant.  I wish there was more I could do. I keep in contact with my guys, make decisions, anything that needs to be done," the sheriff explained.

Mayor Mark Hipsher believes the sheriff's absence is behind some of the problems at the jail. 

"I guess you could call it vandalism inside the jail, destroying county property, kicked out some windows," explained Mayor Hipsher.

There have been more than a half a dozen incidents in the last year of inmates kicking out windows, including just three weeks ago when they burned part of the window pane.

"If they break out the windows, then someone can throw something in from the outside, get contraband into the jail," Hipsher explained.

He said so far, the county has paid more than $5,000 to replace the windows.

Mayor Hipsher says the concern is a lack of leadership from the sheriff.

"He's in charge of the jail. Anything that happens there really goes back to him," Hipsher said.

6 News asked Sheriff Layel about the problems.

"Anytime you have a jail with that many prisoners, there are things that are going to happen, I can't be there 24 hours a day and neither can my chief, but we do the best we can," Sheriff Layel said.

In his absence ,he says Chief Deputy Charles Biddle handles the day in and day out at the station.

He says despite rumors, his absence is not related to drugs.

"There's one [rumor] started that I was in rehab, just amazing, I'm here at my house. Didn't know they did rehab at the house. I've rehabbed my leg, but that's it," he explained.

He says it's finally all been too much.

"This has been very painful on my family and my kids and I appreciate the people and the trust they put in me but it's probably time for me to retire after all these years," he said.

Sheriff Layel says he will not seek re-election in the spring, but he does hope to return to work when he gets the okay from his doctor.

"I'm sorry to the people that I can't do more," Sheriff Layel said. "I wish I could."

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