Tennessee prosecutors said Friday they’ll take a fresh look at the work of a detective who, as a Baptist pastor, allegedly delivered homophobic sermons.
Knox County Sheriff’s Det. Grayson Fritts said during a sermon last weekend that gay people are “freaks” and “reprobates” who are “worthy of death” and should be tried and executed by the government, according to NBC affiliate WBIR in Knoxville.
Charme Allen, the prosecuting attorney of the 6th Judicial District, which includes Knox County, said she found Fritts’ comments “personally offensive and reprehensible.”
Fritts resigned two weeks ago from the sheriff’s department after 19 years on the job.
“My constitutional obligation is to protect the integrity of the justice system,” Allen said in a statement to NBC News on Friday.
“When any potential witness in a criminal proceeding expresses an opinion of hatred and/or bias towards a class of citizens, I am ethically bound to explore that witness’ credibility. Accordingly, I am reviewing all pending cases involving Mr. Fritts to scrutinize them for any potential bias.”
There are 10 pending cases that involve work from Fritts, the Knoxville Sentinel reported.
“I have dedicated my career to the belief that justice is blind and that all people are entitled to equal protection of the law,” according to Allen. “I always have, and always will, prosecute fairly and justly, based upon the law and the evidence, without prejudice, bias, or discrimination of any kind.”
Fritts could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday. But he told reporters outside his All Scripture Baptist Church earlier this week that he wished other pastors would speak up like he has.
“I’m not an anomaly. I am a Baptist preacher that is just preaching the Bible and if it offends society, then it’s going to offend society, but if all these other pastors would grow a spine … and would stand up just like I’m standing up,” he told reporters.
Fritts insisted he doesn’t want harm to come to any gay people.
The detective took a voluntary buyout from the department and is now on paid sick leave until July 19, when the buyout kicks in, officials said.
“I want to be very clear that it is my responsibility to ensure equal protection to ALL citizens of Knox County, Tennessee, under the law, my oath and the United States Constitution without discrimination or hesitation,” according to a statement from Sheriff Tom Spangler.
“Rest assured that I have and will continue to do so,” Spangler said.