ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A former sheriff’s deputy in Colorado has retired with a $30,000 separation agreement rather than face an internal affairs investigation for her OnlyFans page.
Melissa Williams still operates her OnlyFans page, which allows online subscribers to pay $10 a month to see her pose naked or partially naked and engage in sex acts with her husband. She spent 28 years in law enforcement, including her last 11 years with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, where she was most recently assigned to the detention center as a lieutenant.
“I was a really good cop. I was a really good cop, and I was a really good leader,” the 48-year-old Williams said in an interview with KDVR.
Williams said she never posed in her uniform or identified herself as a deputy and said it never occurred to her the sheriff’s department might find her page inappropriate.
“I never did because I was doing it off-duty and it was never anything criminal,” she said.
OnlyFans page leads to complaint
Williams said there were no issues with her OnlyFans page for the first 18 months. But eventually, co-workers found out and a female officer from a neighboring police department filed a complaint with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. In the Aug. 5 complaint, she stated that she felt the lieutenant’s “poor judgment was a discredit to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.”
“I was like, this doesn’t even affect the person that reported it. It doesn’t affect my work, it doesn’t affect my employees, it doesn’t affect the community,” Williams said.
But the sheriff’s office took the complaint seriously. In a memo obtained by KDVR, an internal affairs inspector wrote, “The website contained pictures of Lt. Williams posing for pictures clearly showing her face and her genitals, one or more of the photos appear to have been taken in a very public location.”
“I think some people viewed as what I did for fun, as being a sex worker, but I’m the same as someone else’s neighbor, their friend, mom, daughter. I’m still the same person I was for the 18 months the page existed and nobody knew,” Williams said.
Colorado law protects employee personal time
“There are a lot of things that are legal that someone might disapprove of,” said Don Mayer, a professor of business ethics and legal studies at the University of Denver.
He said Colorado has a law called the “Lawful Off-Duty Activity Statute” that protects employees from being fired for what they do in their personal time as long as they’re not breaking any laws.
“I don’t think there’s a strong argument that what she did was unlawful,” Mayer said.
But a spokesman for Sheriff Tyler Brown said the agency felt Williams should have sought permission for secondary employment, just like any deputy who works security at a bar or a football game is required to do.
Williams said it didn’t occur to seek permission for secondary employment.
“No, because it really doesn’t generate employment income and there are a lot of individuals throughout the metro area who have what could be considered secondary employment, but it isn’t something that gets claimed or gets reported,” she said.
Williams declined to say how much money her OnlyFans page has earned her but acknowledged she has more than 300 subscribers. She said she decided to accept a $30,000 separation and release agreement in November to retire from the sheriff’s department, partly because she was convinced the department was going to terminate her if she didn’t.
“I did not leave out of shame, and I did not leave out of embarrassment for the OnlyFans page. I left because it was the right thing for myself and my family, and honestly, the OnlyFans piece was just one part of it,” Williams said.
Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office responds
Sheriff Brown declined to discuss the Williams case, but his spokesperson told KDVR in an email:
“As far as the secondary employment, our policy does not explicitly mention OnlyFans or similar web hosting platforms; however, the policy does cover secondary employment that may negatively affect a member’s performance of their regular assigned duties, or which likely would bring the Sheriff’s Office into disrepute. In light of the nature of OnlyFans platforms, the Sheriff has interpreted our policy to mean that anyone having such a website or page as a second job would need to notify the Sheriff and obtain his approval before pursuing such an undertaking.”
In another statement on Monday, the Sheriff’s Office said:
“The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into Ms. Williams after receiving a complaint from a member of the public alleging that Ms. Williams was posing on a pornographic website and, in doing so, was bringing discredit to the Sheriff’s Office. Prior to the completion of that investigation, Ms. Williams sought to negotiate a severance and elected to resign her employment. Ms. Williams was not fired, nor was she forced to leave the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. Ms. Williams’ allegations appear to be nothing more than an effort to manufacture a ‘newsworthy’ story to drive traffic to her website.”