‘A person who has learned from those things’: Former acquitted Clay County sheriff on comeback trail to get his job back

A former Clay County sheriff is willing to get back in the spotlight with hopes of getting his job back after he was acquitted in a trial a year ago following an “embarrassing” scandal.

Darryl Daniels sat down with News4JAX and said since the acquittal, he has had time to do some intense soul-searching.

“I’ve had the time to reflect on my weaknesses, and how do you strengthen those things and who do I lean on to make myself better, not only as a man but as a leader,” Daniels said.

Daniels was the leader of Clay County law enforcement from 2016 to 2020. He lost his reelection campaign when he was prosecuted on charges connected to a sex scandal in 2019.

Just last month, Daniels filed to run for Clay County sheriff again for 2024. The filing came almost exactly a year after a jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all seven counts against Daniels including accusations of tampering with evidence, attempted destruction of evidence and five counts of lying to law enforcement.

In 2020, current Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook defeated Daniels not long after the sheriff was arrested after a year-long investigation of criminal misconduct resulting from an extramarital affair. A day later, Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Daniels.

“Yes, I was embarrassed, but where does embarrassment come from? Pride. Pride is the root cause of embarrassment. That’s where it comes from,” Daniels said. “Let’s face it, the way that I carry myself sometimes was in a prideful manner. I’d be the first to admit that.”

Daniels said he is in a better place after all the drama.

“Pride comes before fall. I lived it. It took the person closest to me to point that out, and she said, you were prideful and God had to deal with you. But you know what? I’m better for it,” he said.

Despite it all, Daniels said he wouldn’t “trade the experience.”

“I can only speak for myself. I wouldn’t trade the heartbreak, the pain, the tears, the embarrassment and all that went into that. I wouldn’t trade that because it’s what makes me who I am for you right now — a person who has learned from those things,” Daniels said.

Daniels said he never lied to the people of Clay County and wants to be a better husband, leader and a “person who leans hard on his faith.”

Catch the full interview on This Week in Jacksonville.

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