A Fresno County Sheriff’s captain who made sexual comments and asked sexual questions during a February assembly with Immanuel Schools students in Reedley has been demoted to the rank of sheriff sergeant, The Fresno Bee has learned.
Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Tony Botti on Tuesday confirmed that former sheriff captain Joe Smith now has a “rank of sheriff sergeant.”
“Due to the Peace Officer Bill of Rights (POBOR), we are limited to what we can disclose on internal matters,” Botti told The Bee on Tuesday.
An email sent to Smith by The Bee on Tuesday was returned with an automatic reply stating he is out of the office until July 10. He also could not be reached by phone. .
In a video shared with The Bee in February, Smith, 46, is seen and heard talking to students at the private K-12 Christian school during an assembly on campus. The beginning of talk was inspirational but it took a different and unexpected turn toward the end when the content became sexual.
“I want you guys to raise your hands up high if in the last week you’ve not only looked at porn, but you masturbated,” he tells the students, according to the video.
Those comments, and others, prompted an internal investigation. But the Sheriff’s Office in February told The Bee it would not disclose what action, if any, would be taken after the probe was completed.
However, documentation seen by The Bee shows the demotion was effective June 12.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office website still listed Smith as a captain on the executive staff.
Botti on Tuesday didn’t provide Smith’s salary when he was a captain and what his current salary is as sergeant. According to Transparent California, Smith’s total compensation in 2020 was $153,222.
Smith confirmed to The Bee that he made the comments.
“In retrospect, I could have vetted these two questions with school staff first,” he told The Bee in February. “I sincerely apologize if I offended any student and/or their families.”
Soon after Smith made the comments about porn and masturbation during his speech, there was no reaction from the young audience. He broke the silence by saying “awkward” before continuing with the program. .
“Studies show 50% of high school and junior high kids, boys, specifically, have done this,” Smith told the students. “OK, girls, I’m going to put you on the spot. You ready? In the last week, ladies, how many of you have looked in the mirror and you’ve told yourself you’re not thin enough, you’re not pretty enough, your boobs aren’t big enough? You thought about being promiscuous to attract attention from the other sex, show hands girls.”
Some in the audience giggled at this point. “Yeah, we’re just going to kind of glaze over that, huh? Did I get your attention?” Smith told the students. “Alright. Ladies, studies show that 75% of you have done this in the last week, and yet, nobody in here raised their hand. Boys, you didn’t raise your hand, and yet, you know that I was talking to at least half of you in here.”
That was the second time Smith had spoken to students at the school.