By Kate Jacobson, Sun Sentinel
Before he was handed a badge and a gun as a police officer for Florida Atlantic University, Jimmy Dac Ho was no stranger to trouble in South Florida.
Fired from the Broward Sheriff's Office in 2004 after a violent fight with his wife, Ho spent two years trying to get another job as a police officer. He was rejected by at least seven departments because of his history at the Sheriff's Office before he landed at FAU in 2006.
Once there, he racked up complaints of excessive force, intimidation and sexual harassment. Many of his problems involved women: Records show he was reprimanded for sending inappropriate text messages and making lewd comments to female employees and students.
Despite 14 written complaints, Ho was punished just once, after he forced a student who spit on a security camera to lick off the spit.
Ho's law enforcement career ended in 2011 after he killed escort Sheri Carter. Ho handcuffed her with his police-issue cuffs, shot her twice and left her to die in her Boynton Beach condo. A judge sentenced him to life in prison in May.
FAU officials have declined to discuss Ho's hiring or his tenure with the school police force. With the criminal trial over, the school now faces a wrongful death lawsuit from Sandi Cooper of Wellington, Sheri Carter's mother.
Cooper said the school should never have hired Ho.
"I'm trying to comprehend why FAU allowed this animal on the streets," she said. "I can't comprehend it."
Ho's career in South Florida law enforcement spanned almost 20 years, and his personnel files from the three departments that employed him since 1995 paint a picture of a man who couldn't stay out of trouble.
He began at the Lauderhill Police Department in 1994, and left for the Broward Sheriff's Office in 2002.
Ho's first sign of trouble came in 1995. An internal affairs report from the Lauderhill Police in 1995 shows a woman said Ho touched her breast during a traffic stop. He then came over to her house several times and harassed her, she said, telling her she looked like "a streetwalker."
The report said there wasn't enough evidence to prove whether Ho ever touched the woman, but then-Deputy Chief Michele Riley said in a report Ho was at fault for commenting about the woman's appearance.
He was cited for failing to maintain a "standard of courtesy."
His tenure at the Lauderhill Police Department shows supervisors complained of sloppy work and error-riddled police reports, records show. But his annual reports also show Ho was given high marks for teamwork and for his knowledge of the job.
He left Lauderhill in 2002 for the Broward Sheriff's Office. Ho worked for BSO for two years before he got fired. He lost his job after his then-wife, Wendy Ho, called police during a domestic dispute at the couple's Pembroke Pines home in April 2004.
According to an arrest report, Wendy Ho told officers as she reached in to the refrigerator for milk, her husband slammed the door on her arm and stared into her eyes for more than a minute. The couple's two children were in the kitchen and they ran from the room in tears, according to the report.
In an interview with a Broward sheriff's investigator, Wendy Ho said her husband had been verbally and physically abusive in the past. The incident in April 2004 was the last straw because her kids at that time were old enough to realize what was going on, she said.
Ho's termination papers note that Pembroke Pines Police had been called to the Ho residence two times before the refrigerator incident, but responding officers never filed reports.
The Sheriff's Office fired him in September 2004. In a memo to then-Sheriff Ken Jenne, a lieutenant colonel said Ho's conduct was "unbecoming" of an employee, records show.
Court documents show Ho entered a plea agreement on the misdemeanor battery charge and was sentenced to five months of probation.
Records from FAU show Ho applied to more than 10 law enforcement agencies around the country between 2004 and 2006. He worked security jobs on and off before landing an interview with FAU.
More than half of the agencies he applied to disqualified him for employment because of his history with BSO, according to hiring documents from FAU. Seven of the 11 agencies disqualified him immediately; the others had made no decision by the time he applied to FAU.
Within his first three years at the department, 14 recorded complaints were filed against him. Between 2007 and 2010, records show Ho made sexual innuendoes toward a residence hall employee, students and female officers.
Ho's personnel file indicates that his supervisors specifically addressed only three complaints and disciplined him for one.
In October 2009, Ho was suspended for two days without pay after he forced a drunken student who had spit on a security camera to lick the spit off with his tongue, records show.