Wayne County Sheriff’s race playing out in court before August Primary -- What we know

Mudslinging is over for the moment in the Wayne County Sheriff’s race

The race for Wayne County Sheriff is heating up with allegations of dirty politics, and Wednesday night, a judge agreed, shutting down a campaign mailer taking aim at current Sheriff Raphael Washington.

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – The race for Wayne County Sheriff is heating up with allegations of dirty politics, and Wednesday night, a judge agreed, shutting down a campaign mailer taking aim at current Sheriff Raphael Washington.

A judge ruled that a company has to stop sending out a mailer containing several past allegations of sexual harassment against Washington.

The lawsuit was heard and decided Wednesday (July 13) by Wayne County’s 3rd Circuit Chief Judge Tim Kenny.

The mudslinging is over for the moment in the Wayne County Sheriff’s race.

A lawsuit and a temporary restraining order were granted against Walter Epps, a candidate for sheriff and messenger printing service, to stop the mailers from going out.

The messengers were filled with headlines about investigations into alleged misconduct, and at the bottom, it read, “Vote no to Sexual Harassment!! Fire Raphael Washington.”

Washington said he was in shock when he saw the information pop up.

“I was like ‘wow,’” said Washington. “This is how campaigns go I guess. Dirty politics.”

Washington is new to the campaign game, having been appointed sheriff after Benny Napoleon’s death in 2020.

“The citizens of Wayne County can’t be fooled,” Washington said. “They know the difference, and here we are from a judge’s ruling, saying it was improper and illegal.”

“How Washington got into that position in the first place is just anybody’s guess,” said Walter Epps. “What we know is who you know.”

Epps, who retired from the department and ran for sheriff in 2010, says his campaign is not behind the mailer but absolutely supports it.

“He does not want the public to have the knowledge of his background, which is all true,” said Epps. “These are real reports, and I have copies of the reports; Real reports, real incidents, and real victims. That’s what he’s trying to hold. He does not want that information to get out.”

Washington did not want to talk directly about those allegations, but instead, he pointed us to a statement his campaign has given out in the past saying:

“The campaign does not respond to rumors and innuendos tossed about in a heated campaign season, particularly after they have been investigated by partial parties as far back two decades ago. Concluding that there was never any cause for any actions to be taken.”


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.