The Strong Arm of the Law

Life in Dallas politics can be nasty, brutish and short when ambition, outrageous rumors and bitter rivalries turn a low-key election into primordial combat. But even in this uncivilized context, Karl Smith was shocked to find a police report dropped off at his Oak Cliff home that detailed a charge of sexual assault involving Constable Mike Dupree and a child. Smith has a sign in his yard supporting the constable's re-election.

Mike Dupree is a balding, 49-year-old man with a tall, trim build whose only concession to middle age is a slight paunch. He is often referred to as openly gay, a lazy descriptor that suggests the constable is Elton John with a badge. In fact, Dupree seems to treat his sexuality the way any straight man would, as neither a defining characteristic nor source of shame. He does admit the obvious: Being a gay man in Texas law enforcement is difficult even if you look, act and talk like everyone else.

Dupree speaks every word calmly and deliberately, able to discuss traumatic events and scandalous accusations as if he were talking about the most recent episode of Two and a Half Men. Judging by his tone of voice as he discusses that doctored police report, he seems to have endured a silly prank, not an assault on his character. But his words, while delivered gently, leave little room for misinterpretation.


Mike Dupree

Dupree says, with scant evidence, that his opponent Jaime Cortes is behind the distribution of the false report, which has popped up throughout his precinct. He also claims that Cortes has echoed the false accusations in the document in a desperate shot at winning the election. Cortes unequivocally denies having anything to do with the report or spreading malicious rumors. Instead, he says again and again, this race is about Dupree's job performance. He never mentions that the police report that landed at Karl Smith's door stems from actual events.

In the early morning of May 24, 2002, just weeks after Dupree emerged from a hard-fought re-election campaign that saw him beat Cortes in Round 1 of their series, the constable was taken away from his Oak Cliff apartment in handcuffs after his partner claimed that he had been sexually assaulted. The younger man, who worked at an Italian restaurant, said that he awoke to find Dupree giving him a blowjob without his consent.

It was around 5 a.m. when Dallas police hauled Dupree, who himself has all the powers of a cop and more, into the back of a squad car and drove him to the county jail. They were walking him to the booking area when one officer's phone rang. Dupree couldn't tell what was said, but it was obvious the conversation centered on his arrest. After the call, the officer led him into an office instead of the booking area. There Dupree waited for about half an hour until an officer came in and told him he was free to go. Dupree's partner, then in his late 20s, would later say that he made up the story of the sexual assault after he had too much to drink, which provoked a fight with Dupree about the young man's plans to go to Mexico. He threatened Dupree, saying that he could ruin his career. The constable told him to go ahead and try. He did.

Dupree's arrest never made headlines. After a meeting with his staff the next day to discuss what happened, he broke up with his partner and looked to move on with his life. But in the gossipy world of law enforcement and among Dupree's cast of enemies, the constable's quick round-trip visit to jail elicited all sorts of conspiracy theories. At least some thought that Dupree leveraged his rank for a get-out-of-jail-free card, although his enemies don't know, or say they don't know, that his ex has confessed that he fabricated his destructive story.

Nearly a year to the date he was hauled off to jail, Dupree ordered the arrest of a man for impersonating an officer. The man was a part of a fringe group called the Republic of Texas, a group that asserts the political independence of Texas from the United States. In retaliation, the group posted the police report online, except it was doctored to indicate that the complainant was a child.

Amid a close election campaign, that same doctored report has supposedly surfaced at various locations, including a bathroom stall at a local Burger King and, most recently, Karl Smith's Oak Cliff home. Dupree says Smith found the report shortly after Cortes came to his house asking for his vote. But Smith contradicts Dupree somewhat, saying that Cortes came weeks before that. The constable later visited Smith's house and told him the report was the work of the Republic of Texas and, by the way, one of their members is Jaime Cortes. There is no evidence that's even remotely true.

"It's an Anglo-American group, and I don't fit that bill," says Cortes, who laughed when asked if he belonged to the Republic of Texas.

If Michael Dupree is less a sinner than a man sinned against, it's not by much. The Oak Cliff-area constable, who had an undistinguished career in law enforcement before taking office, is as much of a pit bull as his many detractors, offering outrageous claims against his enemies that seem like they came from a treatment for a Walker: Texas Ranger spinoff. At various times in recent weeks, Dupree has claimed that the wife of an ex-friend complained to him that she was being pimped on the streets of South Dallas. He says the FBI investigated the deputies who worked for his predecessor for allegedly ferrying drugs outside the county in their patrol cars. He says one of the two deputies who have sued him for wrongful termination had her cell phone end up on a dead body in Grand Prairie, while the other brutally whipped a man while serving a civil warrant.

That both ex-deputies have won a judgment against the county over their dismissals doesn't faze Dupree. He blames that on the Dallas District Attorney's Office, which has represented him unsuccessfully on other lawsuits.

"The county's position should be to hire outside counsel to handle cases of this magnitude," he says, referring to the wrongful termination cases. "Most of the attorneys who work for the DA's office are new attorneys; they just started their jobs. They have no trial experience. All they have is text experience."

That kind of remark won't exactly endear Dupree to county officials, who have grown increasingly frustrated over the spate of court-ordered judgments against him in recent years. But it's typical of a man who seems to blame everyone else for his unusual ability to stumble into controversy, confrontation and misfortune. Exactly because he is gay, Dupree has many enemies who would love to end his career, but perhaps none of them are doing as good a job as he is.

Dupree tells some stories that would make Oprah's favorite fibbing memoirist James Frey blush. Then there are the true tales he tells that only seem to highlight the bizarre world of low-level law enforcement where people authorized to carry firearms are tangled up in petty intrigue, ruthless infighting and inane escapades. Kind of makes you think of stepping on the gas pedal the next time a deputy constable has you in his sights.

Six years after defeating the infamous Aurelio Castillo, who garnered attention for corruption, abuse of power and even an allegation of cattle rustling, Dupree has endured a frustrating mix of triumphs and failures that has put his $85,000-a-year position on the line. Most important, he has cleaned up the office, turning it from a petri dish of peculiar scandals and headline-grabbing screw-ups into an honest operation, at least compared with the Judge Dredd-like reign of his predecessor. At the same time, Dupree's office ranks dead last among all five Dallas County constables at its primary job of serving court papers, while Dupree himself lost several court rulings that came about because he failed to collect a court-ordered judgment, as his job requires. Those are the types of failures that Dupree's opponent brings up every chance he gets. He doesn't seem to need a doctored police report to make his case.

In the early years of Texas, the constable was often the toughest, sternest and most powerful law-enforcement figure in a county. The Legislature empowered constables to suppress "all fits, routs, affrays, fighting and unlawful assemblies." (You know it had to have been a rough-and-tumble time in the state's history when we had five or so different ways to describe what happens when rednecks have too much to drink.) Today, constables aren't as busy putting down the everyday fit and rout, though they remain prominent and respected figures in many rural areas.

In Dallas County, constables fall somewhere between the police chief and the security officer patrolling an apartment complex. In Dallas, if you know the name of your local constable, it's probably because you know him. Or at least his cousin. In some elections for constable, no more than 10,000 people turn out to vote, and many of those no doubt came to cast ballots for candidates in higher offices.

There are five elected constables in Dallas County, and while they and their deputies have the same authority as a police officer, they're charged with carrying out the duties of the courts. Their most important task is to serve civil warrants, misdemeanor criminal warrants and writs of execution, which are court orders enabling the local constables to collect a judgment. If you won't respond to an eviction notice or an arrest warrant for reckless driving, if you won't pay a court-ordered judgment, if you've just been subpoenaed to testify in a criminal case, the constable's office will track you down. On the other hand, if you instigate a fit, rout or affray, the constable's office is supposed to defer to Dallas police. That's why no matter how many times NBC spins off Law and Order, it'll never green-light a show on urban constables. (Although, as you'll soon see, a reality show on them wouldn't be half bad.)

It says something about the position of constable that Mike Dupree could win an election without ever having risen through the ranks of law enforcement. Born in Oak Cliff and raised in Irving, Dupree always figured he'd have a job with a badge, but at the age of 22, that prospect seemed about as far-fetched as being drafted to play quarterback for the Cowboys. After two brief jobs at suburban police departments, Dupree was making $600 a month as an assistant manager of an Exxon station in Irving when, in 1979, he decided to apply for a deputy job at the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, even though the department had rejected him a year earlier.

Dupree faced daunting odds of being hired. According to his personnel file at the sheriff's office, he had already resigned under pressure from the Irving Police Department after being accused of harassing a female motorist. He had also been fired from the Cockrell Hill Police Department after a dispute with a supervisor.

Despite his checkered employment history, Dupree was hired as a deputy sheriff and received decent marks and several commendations during his time there. He even helped Dallas homicide detectives apprehend a trio of murder suspects. Still, in 1983, Dupree turned in his resignation letter not long after he was reprimanded for insubordination for not complying with a direct order from a superior. In Dupree's personnel file, the sergeant of the patrol division documented his "resignation without notice" and recommended that Dupree not be considered for rehiring. Dupree's three-and-a-half-year stint at the sheriff's office would be the longest he would stay at any job until he was elected constable.

Following his resignation from the sheriff's office, Dupree bounced from small-town police jobs to county constable offices where he worked as a non-paid reserve officer. He also worked as a private process server delivering legal notices. After another brief stint at the Cockrell Hill Police Department, Dupree went to work for Dallas Constable Mike Pappas in 1994. But it would take only a little more than a year on the job before Dupree resigned after he was found to have traveled to an off-duty job in a Dallas County vehicle. Dupree says that he actually drove his patrol car after his shift to his mother's house to wish her a happy birthday. The investigative report on Dupree, however, notes that "this is not the first time this type of conduct has been brought to the attention of this department." Dupree, though, attacks the credibility of the investigator on the case, Clint Shelton, by pointing out (correctly) that he was later convicted of murder. Kind of makes delivering a birthday cake seem less of a big deal.

Mike Pappas, now working for Dallas County Commissioner Maureen Dickey as her road and bridge superintendent, says he only vaguely remembers the circumstances that led to Dupree's resignation. About the man who now serves as an elected constable with nearly 34 people on his staff, Pappas says, "He was an average officer, sometimes above average. It just depended on whether his mind was on his job."

Dupree lists several reasons why he's had so many jobs in law enforcement. "Some of these were at smaller towns where a chief of police might quit, so I left too because they were friends of mine," he says. "And I think a lot of it is that people found out."

It wasn't until 1993, when Dupree was in his late 30s, that he became more open about his sexuality. Before and after that time, he says, he endured vicious acts of bigotry.

"I got nasty notes on my car. I had my car vandalized. I've had 'faggot' and 'dick sucker' written on my car in shoe polish," he says.

Interestingly, in a wide-ranging interview that delved into topics ranging from his arrest to his competency, Dupree only seemed to be affected when asked about his private life.

"There were times in my life where I wished I was normal, but how do you define normal?" he says. "I guess there is an instinct even in gay men in wishing they had a family. I'll go to the mall and see a man and his son and think that I missed out."

If there were a tiny cow pie in the middle of a 10-acre field, Aurelio Castillo likely would have stepped in it. The first Hispanic constable in Dallas County and Mike Dupree's immediate predecessor, Castillo was not a certified peace officer when he took office in 1997, although he quickly etched a reputation as a wannabe cop.

"We basically can do anything, whether it's drug interdiction or making a traffic stop," he told the Dallas Observer shortly after taking office. "When a constable comes knocking on the door, people should know that they are peace officers--that they are the cops." Castillo would later design T-shirts and jackets for his officers that read "Dallas County Police."

As a candidate for constable, Castillo met with Charles Slayton, the mayor of Cockrell Hill, a one-square-mile town located at the edge of his precinct. "He came to my house and said, 'I'm going to have a 250-man force, I'm going to have a motorcycle police,' and I said to myself, 'Damn, you're supposed to serve civil papers,'" Slayton recalls.

Later, Slayton became an outspoken adversary of Castillo, whom he claimed wanted to "take over Cockrell Hill." As his opposition to the constable increased, Slayton says that Castillo met him at City Hall. With six deputies in tow the constable told the mayor, "I ought to lock you up."

Within months of taking office, Castillo infuriated county officials. Justice of the Peace Diana Orozco refused to let him serve her court's papers, directing them to Mike Pappas instead. She claimed that Castillo was not properly removing warrants from the system, causing at least one man to get arrested who shouldn't have and exposing the county to possible lawsuits. Responding to the judge's criticism, Castillo told the Observer, "She is just a mean little lady that hates."

A Dallas County grand jury, filled perhaps with other mean little ladies, would later indict Castillo on two felony counts, one for violating fund-raising laws, the other for bribery. In 2000, he was convicted on a lesser charge of accepting illegal corporate donations and sentenced to six months' probation.

Dupree briefly worked for Castillo as a reserve officer but resigned after only two days on the job. "There was something about his character that disturbed me greatly," Dupree says.

Despite his conviction, Castillo ran for re-election in a crowded Democratic primary in March 2000 that included Dupree, former Dallas police officer Granver Tolliver and a security guard with a name out of a science-fiction film, Ozumba Lnuk-X. Incredibly, Tolliver managed to take attention away from Castillo's bizarre bid to remain in law enforcement when he sent postcards that named Dupree and wrote "homosexuality is still a crime," in reference to anti-sodomy laws then on the books.

Dupree says that Tolliver's mailing galvanized support for him throughout the district. "The first person to call me was Laura Miller," he says of the mayor, then an Oak Cliff council member. "She said, 'I'm very disgusted to find something like this in my mailbox. We've never allowed anyone to put a sign in our yard, but you're welcome to put a sign in our yard.'"

After campaigning on his two-decade career in law enforcement, Dupree edged out Castillo in a runoff. It was an unlikely turn of events for someone who had dreamed of a career in law enforcement as a child but never found any success until he beat out a convicted felon for constable. Interestingly, a psychological profile of Dupree from when he first applied to work at the sheriff's office was rather prescient on the matter of the job candidate's uncanny ability to bounce back.

"As an individual, Mr. Dupree is fairly resilient. For example, he has several major disappointing life experiences and yet somehow has managed to overcome these setbacks," read a report from a clinical psychologist who reviewed job candidates for the sheriff's office. "This is an individual who has good ego strength and can overcome personal odds."

Just as there is nothing more important for a distance runner than to choose his parents wisely, the best formula for political success is to have a scandal-plagued predecessor. Next to Castillo, Dupree has been Winston Churchill with a badge. He has never been accused of being drunk with power and, by all accounts, runs an honest office. Constituents laud the vigilance of his traffic division, while his deputies have also seized illegal weapons off the streets of West Dallas. And while Dupree is running against a Latino opponent, it's not uncommon to see his campaign signs displayed outside Hispanic-owned businesses in Oak Cliff.

"I think he does a good job," says Constable Rick Richardson, who represents the Richardson area. "He gets crosswise with the commissioners for some of the activities he does, but he has a positive impact on crime in his area, and his constituents seem to like him."

As Richardson alludes, county officials have become frustrated with Dupree's crime-fighting initiatives because they believe it comes at the expense of his office's number one responsibility: delivering orders of the court. The county's budget office tracks the percentage of court papers each constable's office successfully serves, and Dupree consistently ranks at the bottom.

This is hardly an academic matter. First, a little primer: When a business or person is ordered to pay a debt, the court may order the constable's office to seize and then sell property like a second home or car, computers, televisions or other assets that a debtor could lose without suffering undue heartache. That order is called a writ of execution, and if you have one against you, the constable's office is probably looking up your address on Mapquest right now. Last year, a county judge held that Dupree violated Texas civil codes when his office inexplicably failed to collect a judgment against several Dallas bars. A court had found that the establishments owed restitution to KingVision Pay-Per-View after the bars were found to be illegally showing pay-per-view fights. Dupree was sued in his official capacity after he failed to serve writs of execution on the businesses. Hitting at his credibility, the lawsuit claimed that Dupree's office made several false statements during the legal proceedings, including a claim that Dallas County constables do not seize property as a means of collecting a judgment. Lawyers for KingVision introduced evidence that refuted the constable's claim.

Judge Bruce Woody would later side with KingVision. "Constable Dupree, through his acts and omissions, failed to exercise due diligence," read the judge's finding of fact, which also stated that Dupree caused "significant interference with the legitimate exercise of a traditional core function of this court, namely the enforcement of the judgment."

That scolding judgment against Dupree, and several others just like it, are under appeal, but it could end up costing the county at least a million dollars.

Despite being rebuked by a judge, Dupree is adamant that his office did nothing wrong. He says he simply does not have enough staff to keep up with the volume of writs his office receives even though the county staffs every constable's office on a strict formula based on how many court papers each of them receives. "I've been fighting that formula for years," he replies.

In fact, while the court-ordered judgments against him have been a black eye on his office and often remarked upon in county government circles, Dupree quickly redirects the blame to the five-member Dallas County Commissioners Court, which ultimately sets his budget.

"I don't have adequate manpower to deal with [the writs of execution], and when I ask for more manpower from the commissioners court, they tell me, 'You need to do your job,'" he says. "Well, we are doing our job with the resources they give us. It's like a chess match, but the commissioners court owns the chessboard. If they are not going to give us the resources to do our job, as the constitution states, then they are in violation of the law."

Dallas County Commissioner Ken Mayfield, however, whose district includes part of Dupree's, says that the constable's problems have nothing to do with staffing.

"It's basically a management problem, and the management problem is him," Mayfield says. "The citizens would do well to look at this if we have to pay a large sum of money because of his incompetence."

Constable Rick Richardson adds that he has no problem with how the commissioners staff his office. His precinct, which typically ranks in the top two in the percentage of court papers served, focuses almost exclusively on that very task. Although he respects the job Dupree does, he suggests Dupree has officers going in lots of different directions. "That could be why he's stretched thin."

Basing an entire campaign on an incumbent constable's laggard rate at delivering orders of the court may seem curious, but Jaime Cortes hammers away at his contention that Dupree is flat-out incompetent. Asked about Dupree's charge that Cortes is responsible for spreading false rumors about his arrest for sexual assault, Cortes denies having anything to do with that and suggests that his opponent is merely trying to change the subject. "He's nervous about the race," says Cortes, who works as a traffic sergeant for Constable Derrick Evans. "I guess he's trying to draw attention away from the fact that he's in last place serving his papers. The bottom line is he's not doing his job."

In 2002, Dupree had to run for re-election only two years after he took office when the commissioner's court redrew the precinct boundaries. In the Democratic primary, Cortes beat Dupree but failed to receive the majority of overall votes. In a subsequent runoff, Dupree won easily, although a year later he filed for bankruptcy in part, he says, because he used credit cards to finance his campaign. Now it's Dupree and Cortes in Round 2 of the battle for a precinct that includes Oak Cliff and chunks of East and North Dallas. The Democratic primary is March 7. Faced with an invigorated challenger, the incumbent is going swift-boat on his opponent, accusing Cortes of everything from stealing his campaign signs to threatening people who won't support him. Dupree even links Cortes to his wayward predecessor, pointing out that the two are brothers-in-law. (Cortes says Castillo is his wife's half-brother.) Here is a set of quotes from Dupree on his bid to defeat Cortes yet again, with our explanation of the context in parentheses:

"My opponent made sure everyone knew about this." (Dupree claims that Cortes has spread the news of his arrest for sexual assault.)

"To me, he's, well, I'm not going to say that." (On the verge of criticizing his opponent before thinking better of it.)

"For me, I'm a statesman. I take the high road."

"If I lose the election I will be sad because the public will be at the mercy of my successor."

"The type of office my predecessor ran was like a Gestapo on the street. From what I know of my opponent, he and his brother-in-law are very similar."

"The candidate who tries to destroy the credibility of another candidate is a candidate who has no credibility of his own."

"A political race between two candidates is a competition to market yourself, not to destroy another person. I don't go out and tell everybody how bad Jaime Cortes is. I go ahead and market myself as a candidate and tell everybody the accomplishments of our office."

In contrast, in numerous interviews with the Observer, Cortes offered only precise and job-related criticisms of Dupree, mostly centering on the less-than-glamorous issue of his record of delivering court papers. Cortes never brought up or wanted to discuss Dupree's arrest for sexual assault, his bankruptcy or his checkered career in law enforcement, other than his inability to move up the ranks at any one place. Meanwhile, the constable Cortes works for has nothing but high praise for his sergeant.

"I'd hate to lose him, but I don't want to hold him back," says Evans, who, incidentally, is running for re-election against one of Dupree's officers. "He's been an asset to the department. I don't know what else to say other than he's been the perfect sergeant."

Cortes' campaign has also publicly avoided making any issue of Dupree's sexual orientation. "There is no gay-baiting going on in our campaign," says Cortes' campaign consultant Anna Casey.

At least one Dupree supporter, however, offers a different view. Late last month, Rosie Rodriguez was working at her floral business on Hampton Avenue helping a grieving family select a flower arrangement for a funeral when a woman with a Cortes T-shirt entered the store. She dropped off a pamphlet and left without introducing herself. Rodriguez recalls the pamphlet said that in 2002 Dupree molested a little boy and that there were several charges against him.

"I didn't appreciate them coming into my place, dropping off trash like that," she says. Rodriguez adds that her campaign signs for Dupree later turned up missing.

Asked about Rodriguez's story, Cortes says that particular pamphlet didn't come from anybody in his campaign. "The only pamphlet I'm passing out is the one that says he's not doing the job," he says.

Interestingly, Cortes adds that he and Rodriguez are second cousins and that they come from the same town in Mexico.

When Dupree is not fighting political opponents, he's lashing out at a pair of deputy constables whom he refused to swear into office after he defeated Castillo in 2000. In 2003, a jury awarded a total of $2 million to former officers Jim Gilliand, Sonia Godinez and the estate of Stanley Gaines after the judge ruled that they had been wrongfully dismissed. (Gaines died before the case was heard.)

The judge agreed with Gilliand and Godinez's claim that Dupree had no cause to fire them; the former deputies argued that they lost their jobs to make room for people who supported the constable in his re-election. The case is on appeal.

Asked about the ex-employees, Dupree said that he simply did not have "faith and confidence in them," even though he had not become constable when he effectively terminated them. "If I had the same choices to make, I'd do it again."

Dupree went into some detail on why he did not want to work with the three officers. As Dupree tells it, Sonia Godinez was not someone you'd want walking your dog, much less carrying a gun. For one, he says, her cell phone ended up on a dead body in Grand Prairie. Her boyfriend or husband beat her up and stole her squad car. She had extensive communication with an inmate in a Texas prison who was a member of a high-level drug cartel, Dupree claims.

Godinez concedes that she had been in an abusive marriage. Her then-husband, who is now in prison, did take her squad car and drove it around her apartment complex. She said she called her supervisor and reported it.

On her ties to the dead body in Grand Prairie, Godinez says that a cell phone she had given to her cousin had received calls from the man who died. And the inmate Dupree is referring to is probably her sister's boyfriend, who had served time on a drug conviction. She had written him letters while he was in prison.

Dupree says Jim Gilliand, the other officer he let go, beat a man while serving a civil warrant. But in that case, one of Dupree's current deputies arrested the man, who was wanted for delinquent child support payments. Gilliand says he never touched him.

In any case, you would think that if Dupree had valid reasons not to include these officers among his staff, he would have been able to convince the judge and jury. For that failure, the constable blames his legal team.

"There was actually poor representation by the Dallas County District Attorney's Office," he says.

Despite all the issues that surround Mike Dupree and his checkered record in law enforcement, the constable patiently and respectfully answered every question about his background and how he runs his office. He never lost his temper and was remarkably friendly through numerous phone calls and interviews. He answered several questions about the morning he was arrested for sexual assault, even as he was forced to recall the grueling details. And yet Dupree talked about it again and again, revealing personal details about himself and his life to a stranger.

Ironically, the man who seems to capture Dupree in the best possible light is the one who brought him so much anguish. On the afternoon when I met Dupree, his ex-boyfriend came by the office. Dupree suggested he and I talk privately. Of course, there's the possibility that this whole encounter was meticulously choreographed, but the two, while no longer a pair, seemed genuinely affectionate toward each other.

The ex-boyfriend, who is now 30 years old, said that on the day of Dupree's arrest the two had been fighting. He had been drinking and amid a pitched argument, he told Dupree, "I can destroy your career." Dupree told him, "OK, do it," and the young man set up his partner for the ultimate humiliation. He called the police to apprehend a lawman.

Dupree says he harbors no ill-will toward his ex and talks about him with obvious pride. He chuckles at the man's new facial hair and delights in hearing about how he has joined a rock band.

The two, who had been living together, broke up after their fight to end all fights, but the man says that he still keeps in touch with Dupree.

"I was stupid; I made a mistake. But sometimes I'll call him and say hello, and he's never rude or mad at me," says the ex. "He's a good person; he's always helping me."

The psychologist who analyzed Dupree for the sheriff in 1979 wrote that Dupree "still has to adjust his perception of the world to true reality." That observation seems just as relevant more than 25 years later. Taken collectively, Dupree's stories and explanations of his failings rarely involve a thorough accounting of what really happened. On his campaign Web site, for example, Dupree writes that he was honorably discharged from the Air Force, though he didn't add that he served for only a month before receiving a medical discharge for a foot condition. On his site, he also notes that he attended Mountain View Junior College, although he failed to include that he only studied there for six months.

Like all job seekers, when Dupree first applied for a job at the sheriff's office, he was given a polygraph test. While today a gay woman serves as sheriff, back then applicants had to answer questions about their sexual orientation, as if candidates' choices in sexual partners could possibly affect how they enforce the law. He also had to complete a psychological test by completing a series of sentences as fast as he could. Here's how he finished question 19, with his answer in italics. "If I had sex relations with Bo Derek I'd be on Cloud 9. " Dupree had not come out of the closet at that point, but when asked questions about homosexuality during the lie detector test, his answers showed a high degree of stress, according to his personnel file.

"I don't think he is psychologically normal," wrote the sergeant who gave him the polygraph. "He kept giving answers in the homosexual areas."

Strapped to a lie detector test and interrogated about his sexuality, Dupree might have learned right there that to stay in law enforcement he had to distort who he was. He had to omit key details about his life and package stories other wanted to hear. He learned he couldn't trust anyone. Those are lessons he hasn't forgotten.

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