Court dismisses most of fired jail administrator’s claims against county

By: - December 16, 2022 4:58 pm

Former Muscatine County Jail Administrator Dean Naylor had a YouTube channel in which he detailed the coming "end times." In a related written treatise, he said Muslims worship Satan and will soon hunt down and kill Christians and Jews. (Photo: YouTube screen capture)

A federal judge has tossed out most of the claims made by a fired Muscatine County jail administrator who is suing the county over his termination in 2020.

The federal lawsuit filed by former jail administrator Dean Naylor initially claimed that when Muscatine County fired him for his published comments pertaining to gays and Muslims, it violated his First Amendment rights related to religious expression, free speech and – in light of his use of YouTube and other social media – freedom of the press. He sued the county for the First Amendment violations as well as employment discrimination and the deprivation of his civil rights.

Six weeks ago, a judge in the case dismissed Sheriff Christopher J. Ryan as a defendant in the case. He also ordered the dismissal of the three counts against the county alleging First Amendment violations, noting that they are subject to a two-year statute of limitations and Naylor’s lawsuit was filed two years and six weeks after he was fired.

That decision left standing one claim against the county alleging that Naylor’s civil rights were violated with regard to his religious beliefs. On Friday, Naylor’s attorney filed an amended petition against the county that seeks to conform to the judge’s ruling.

The county has yet to file a response to that petition, but in previous court filings it has denied any wrongdoing.

In April 2020, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported that Naylor, then the Muscatine County jail administrator and a captain with the sheriff’s department, had published online a lengthy treatise in which he called Muslims “pawns of the devil.” The story noted that Naylor had also created and posted seven related YouTube videos.

In his written treatise, Naylor described “the gay lifestyle” as an abomination and denounced court rulings that led to the removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses and government buildings. He also predicted a global conflict that would pit Muslims, led by Satan, against Christians and result in the death of 2 billion people.

All of the content was produced five to six years prior to the publication of the Capital Dispatch story, but remained publicly accessible online.

Within days, officials in Johnson County — which uses the Muscatine County Jail to house some of its inmates — were threatening to cancel their contract with the jail over Naylor’s “hateful” commentary. That contract provided Muscatine County with $657,000 in annual revenue.

Naylor was fired three weeks after the Capital Dispatch story was published.

In his lawsuit, Naylor has claimed he is a born-again Christian with a devout, biblically based faith. He says that while employed by the county over the course of 10 years, he never received a negative work review and was never subject to any sort of discipline.

That changed, the lawsuit alleges, in April 2020, after Iowa news outlets “selectively quoted inflammatory snippets” from Naylor’s posts “in order to sensationalize and criticize” what he calls his “biblically based views on marriage, sexuality, salvation, and the Christianity faith.”

As for his published treatise and YouTube videos, the lawsuit states that they included no information regarding his city, county, state, or his occupation or employer. Because of that, he says, Muscatine County remained unaware of his religious views until they became the focus of news reports.

The lawsuit notes on April 23, 2020, less than two weeks after the original article was published by the Capital Dispatch, the county placed Naylor on administrative leave, citing allegations that he had made derogatory comments regarding Muslims and homosexuals.

The county’s subsequent disciplinary investigation “focused on the article which had brought (Naylor’s) religious beliefs into question,” the lawsuit states.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.