Embattled Philly sheriff faces another challenger

Larry King, who has worked for the city for more than 25 years, is running for city sheriff. (Photo provided Larry King)

Larry King, who has worked for the city for more than 25 years, is running for city sheriff. (Photo provided Larry King)

A third candidate has announced plans to run this year against Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams, who’s battling sexual harassment allegations.

Larry King, 63, is a 26-year veteran of city employment, having served as a corrections officer and internal affairs investigator in the Philadelphia prison system, and 11 years as a deputy sheriff.

King said in an interview he’s entering the May Democratic primary because he knows from personal experience the office needs a housecleaning.

“I have a good idea of the atmosphere in that office,” King said, “and I think that it’s about time for change, and I believe that I’m that change agent.”

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When he was a deputy in the office, he said, choice assignments were explicitly tied to political contributions.

“I was told that if I didn’t give money to the sheriff’s campaign or any of his events, that I would be taken off the K-9 unit,” King said. When he declined to contribute, he said, he was transferred.

King served under the previous sheriff, John Green, not Williams, but said he still knows people in the office and understands the same atmosphere prevails.

A 2015 story in The Philadelphia Inquirer found most top overtime earners in the department had contributed to Williams’ campaign. Williams sharply denied requiring those contributions.

Three women who worked for Williams have accused him of sexual harassment. One complaint was settled when Williams was in the state legislature. A federal suit by former Sheriff’s Office employee Marlaina Williams (no relation), has now been settled by the city law department with a payment of $127,5000. A third case is pending in federal court. Williams denies all the allegations.

Though he has not made a formal announcement, Williams plans to seek re-election.

As a candidate, King said he will “withhold my opinions until outcome of the [harassment] cases.”

“As a husband and a father of two girls and a daughter-in-law, I cringe at the thought that they could be subjected to those kinds of allegations from their employer,” he added.
King, who said he’s also a preacher and a community activist, has no endorsements from elected officials, ward leaders, or unions at the moment. He said he’ll build support by talking about this plans and qualifications.

Also in the race are former Deputy Sheriff Malika Rahman and Guardian Civic League president Rochelle Bilal.

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