Souder cleared of charges, but will retire

JOHNSON CITY - City Fire Chief Paul Souder was cleared for the second time Monday of sexual harassment charges filed by Sgt. Charles Alexander, but will be retiring at the end of July.
   City Manager Mike West said it was deemed retirement was appropriate to move past the issue. "Paul Souder has participated in activities which are 'unbecoming of an officer.'" He said he found all of the complaints filed by Sgt. Alexander to be unsubstantiated.
   Alexander, a 31-year veteran in the department, filed a sexual harassment charge in January against Souder for grabbing his buttocks.
   While again cleared by city officials, Souder still faces problems with the state.
   The sexual harassment issue is under investigation by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, after it received complaints from at least two firefighters about the chief.
   While now permanently removed from working directly with the fire department, Souder has been given a position in City Hall to work on special projects until he retires at the end of July.
   Assistant Fire Chief Paul Greene will serve in the interim until a new fire chief can be named.