Newton County coroner says she will resign Friday

Newton County Coroner Doretha Bailey-Butts said she will resign from her post as of Friday morning.

In an open letter posted to her Facebook page titled "Corruption in the coroner office," the newly-elected Bailey-Butts explains she feels she had been set up to fail.

"It’s very disheartening when your passion, your dream job that you’ve been working your whole life for, gets little to no support from the people around you. I have put my heart, soul, and even risked my life for this job hoping to serve this county the best that I can. But it’s been very difficult to do my job well when people I work with do everything they can to sabotage me," she wrote.

She described the position as her "passion" and "dream job".

"When I ran for Coroner the first time and didn’t win, I knew I had to try again. I thought that Newton County was ready for change. It was my mistake to think that the county is ready to accept a woman of color to become their coroner," she wrote. "When I won on November 3, 2020, history was made. To become the first woman of color in a position dominated by white men in this county, was such an honor and I will be forever grateful to all the people who supported and voted for me. 

The FOX 5 I-Team reported earlier this year on how there were calls for her resignation a month into her tenure stemming from a deadly car crash on Highway 212 on Jan. 22. According to sheriff’s department reports, Coroner Doretha Bailey-Butts took "a couple of photos" of the deceased, left "a body bag on the trunk of the deceased car" and then told police she "was leaving" without transporting the body.

According to the deputy's report, someone called Sheriff Ezell Brown and, after the sheriff called Bailey-Butts, the newly-elected coroner agreed to transport the body.

"I didn’t resign because you didn’t have faith in me, I am giving up this position because the people who are supposed to help me carry out my tasks well, are making things very difficult. As a coroner, I cannot do everything alone. I need the entire response team to work together and give each other support. But this didn’t happen," she wrote. 

Following the January incident, Newton County Manager Lloyd Kerr had sent a petition to remove the coroner from office to Georgia Coroner’s Training Council. He also admitted he was upset at comments she made during commission meetings. Kerr wrote in his removal petition during a recent commission meeting Bailey-Butts was asking for budget increases and held up an envelope and said she had information "to take Covington down." 

Kerr also wrote that the new coroner hired three deputy chief coroners "without informing the county." And he wrote she mishandled a suicide and a death in a local hotel that took "3+ hours" to remove the body.

"What pushed me into this decision? During my campaign, I already felt hostility. I got some of my banners vandalized, I had my tires slashed. But my intentions were good so I still fought hard. When I won, my entire team had so much difficulty transitioning to the position. The old administration won’t cooperate. There were social media threads from other emergency response organizations bragging that they will not help out when the coroner needs them. There were too many scandals and issues about how I do my duties which mainly comes from the fact that I am black. There were even issues with my office space, my deputies, and other stuff which weren’t a problem with the previous coroner. I even received live bullets in my office. In the earlier cases, some of the other authorities expected us to do everything on our own, even remove the deceased from being entrapped inside of a vehicle. These people wouldn’t accept change for the better. They got so used to the old system. They are intimidated by my capacity, knowledge, and experience. This is a classic example of racism and discrimination," she wrote.

"The people of Newton County had spoken and wanted change, thus electing me as the new Coroner. These people entrusted me with this position knowing that I can do what’s best for our county. We need to speak out and change this system. Because this will only become a cycle if we don’t fight this. This will continue to happen to the next person who tries to make a change for the better. I didn’t fail the people who trusted me, the system failed me," she concluded.

Bailey-Butts said her resignation will become effective at 8 a.m. on Monday.

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