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Sat, Oct 25, 2014 04:43 PM
Issue of October 22, 2014
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Civil case against sheriff headed to pre-trial

May 06, 2009 | 08:43 AM

The civil sexual harassment case against Harrison County Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick and the Harrison County Board of Commissioners will go to a pre-trial hearing in federal court later this week.

Dispatcher Deana Decker and former dispatcher Melissa Graham filed sexual discrimination complaints in May 2008 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found the claims credible and ordered the parties to begin settlement talks.

The case went to mediation last Wednesday, but those talks broke down with Governmental Interinsurance Exchange, Charles W. Miller, the attorney for the two women, said. A second mediation session Thursday was canceled.

"After Wednesday, it was apparent we were not going to be able to reach a resolution of the claim and we went ahead and canceled the second day," Miller said. "I made clear to the defendants and their attorney and adjusters we were prepared to go forward and take this case to trial and let a jury decide a fair value of what the plaintiffs should receive.

"In some cases, you have to let a jury decide, and this appears to be one of those situations," he said.

A hearing on the civil case is set for 1 p.m. Friday at the U.S. District courthouse in New Albany.

"To be frank, I don't think there's really any opportunity for this case to settle this Friday," Miller said. "We're going there in good faith. We've (shown) our desire to the judge with our motion that if we're not able to resolve the matter, particularly during the mediation session, we would like to use our time with him to create a new discovery schedule so we can go forward with setting up for trial."

Deatrick's personal attorney and friend, Bart M. Betteau, who is not involved in the civil case, said he was encouraged by last week's impasse.

"That tells me there's a reason the county is not willing to pay," Betteau said. "We're assuming there won't be anything that comes of this."

Jeremy Dilts of Carson, Boxberger LLP in Bloomington is representing the county's defense. He said yesterday he plans to vigorously defend the case on behalf of the commissioners and county council. Dilts declined to offer his take on the proceedings due to confidentiality agreements, saying only that the case didn't settle and that he's ready for Friday's conference.

The original complaint, which was filed in May 2008, alleges that Deatrick subjected Decker and Graham to sexual harassment by, among other things, touching them in a sexual and offensive manner and making sexually-charged comments to them.

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Deatrick in March, alleging that he discriminated against the two women. After the lawsuit was announced, Miller said he would seek $6.25 million in damages for each woman if the suit went to trial; however, he offered to settle for $2.5 million for Decker and $2 million for Graham.

Miller said yesterday that if everything goes as planned, he's hopeful to set a trial date for early-to-mid-2010.

"I say that knowing we're going to have to conduct 25 to 30 additional depositions besides what's already been done," Miller said. "The sooner the better from our perspective."

  1. print email
    May 07, 2009 | 05:05 PM

    bla bla bla whatever

  2. print email
    Case against sheriff
    May 07, 2009 | 08:55 PM

    I hope this case goes before the jury, and not settled out of court.

  3. print email
    May 08, 2009 | 11:25 AM

    I find it incredibly CRAZY that it has taken a year for them to get this far! ... he should be handled just like anyone else that would have these charges put against them! ...

  4. print email
    May 08, 2009 | 01:09 PM

    We all know it's gonna be a very large amount of county money that is paid but I think the Sheriff should be personally responsible. Not only does he have these women filing suit but the Department of Justice too!!! Please!!!!! Better get out the checkbook County Council!

  5. print email
    I think you should have more faith in the system.
    May 08, 2009 | 01:32 PM

    Everyone has the right to face their accusers in court. All we have here are allegations, and no hard facts. I know they will come out at trial, and the truth will be known to everyone. Until then he is presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty ... Lets not try this case in the court of public opinion, but a court of law. If he is guilty, I will agree there needs to be consequences. Also keep in mind that this particular case is a civil matter, and not a criminal one. I personally do not think there is enough evidence to support a criminal indictment ...

    Bill of Rights
  6. print email
    what go's around comes around
    May 08, 2009 | 08:42 PM

    if you give people respect you get it ...

    new middletown proud
  7. print email
    Sick and Tired
    May 09, 2009 | 03:02 AM

    I am so sick and tired of watching this all play out. As a former resident, and home grown Harrison Countian, I am embarassed ... I hope this case does go to trial, justice will prevail, but at what cost? I'm sure in the end, the true victims of this charade will be the county taxpayer. I grew up with a healthy respect for law enforcement because of the examples I witnessed in Harrison County ... You all make me sick! ...

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