When Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson suddenly stopped publishing mugshots and the booking log of who was booked into the jail as of Tuesday afternoon, it took the county of over 230,000 people by surprise — after all, Fuson had made improvements on making that information more publicly accessible in his decade as the elected Sheriff. The last line of his letter to the public gave a hint as to the reasoning, but few people knew the details at the time.
The published letter ended, “…you would feel different if it were you on the other side of the booking room camera.” It turns out the Sheriff wasn’t worried about himself but rather his daughter, who would soon likely be on “that side” of the booking room camera. In fact, now that the names are not even published, no one would even directly know who was being booked into jail, including his daughter or brother.
Sheriff Fuson is counting on no one knowing who is about to be booked into the jail. A source within the Sheriff’s Office tells Clarksville Today that Fuson made the decision to stop the publication of names and photos after a meeting this week in which he learned his daughter, Sarah Fuson, would be turning herself in during April after a Grand Jury Indictment is returned. The proceedings, which are supposed to be secret, reportedly have resulted in a pre-agreement being reached by her lawyer, Peter Strianse, before the indictment is even returned due to the reported video evidence in the case.
The alleged indictment stems from an incident at a daycare where Sarah Fuson worked. A child was reportedly shaken violently on video, resulting in an injury. Now that Fuson has disabled the display of names and photos of persons booked into the jail, folks would have to work extra hard to request public records from the Sheriff’s office directly to ever know about the eventual arrest and charge(s) — and that’s assuming he did not delay or deny them.
This is far from the first family favor the Sheriff is alleged to have given. His brother was initially given a pass after being indecent near a park on February 28th when he name-dropped his brother to a deputy. Despite the Sheriff’s initial wishes, and after Clarksville Today began asking questions, a citation was filed yesterday, charging his brother with two counts of incident exposure for the February incident.
I would be irresponsible if I didn’t address the elephant in the room — the daughter’s alleged intoxicated driving. Multiple sources within the department report that a deputy pulled over The Sheriff’s daughter, Sarah Fuson, in recent weeks for suspected driving under the influence, and Sheriff Fuson picked her up, so she was never charged, and no record was created.
Sheriff Fuson did not have a sudden ‘change of heart’ in removing the names and photos of people who are being booked into the jail — he made a selfish decision so his daughter would not face the humiliation of anyone knowing when she was booked. Would any of us do the same for our children? That’s hard to say, but even if we did, it would not be the right thing to do as an elected official. Putting the needs of one’s self over those of the community that elected you is the opposite of public service. John Fuson must step down as Sheriff of Montgomery County, as the citizens are no longer his number one priority. It’s understandable that he wants to put his family first, but he needs to do that in a non-elected capacity. As he reminds us in his letter, he is the “most powerful public official in the county,” and he must stop abusing that power.
Jason Steen / Editor: Clarksville Today
Note: Despite the booking logs and photos being public records under Tennessee Law, the department has not acknowledged or provided a response to multiple requests submitted to date for those records.