Commissioners plan to refute allegations surrounding lawsuit
John Colin, attorney for the Harrison County Commissioners, said the three commissioners plan to respond to and refute the allegations made in the recent federal complaint filed by dispatchers Deana Decker and Melissa Graham, as well as to the comments made by their attorney, Charles W. Miller of Louisville.
Decker and Graham contend various violations of their constitutional rights, including sexual harassment, took place at their workplace at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.
According to the suit, filed June 11 by Miller on behalf of Graham and Decker, the women are seeking judgment ‘in an amount sufficient to fully compensate the plaintiffs for their respective damages,’ as well as punitive damages, legal fees and a trial by jury.
In addition to Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick, the suit filed with the U.S. District Court in New Albany names the current county commissioners ‘ James E. Goldman, J.R. Eckart and Terry Miller ‘ and former Commissioner Jim Heitkemper as defendants.
‘The county plans to seek to dismiss the commissioners in their individual capacity as well as their representative capacity,’ Colin said. ‘The commissioners have different powers just as the council has different powers in terms of checks and balances. The commissioners take the charges very seriously. They made what they believed to be was in the best interest of the county and the best decision at the time in regards to taking the 911 dispatch center away from the sheriff’s office.’
Ed Liptak of the Bloomington firm of Carson, Boxberger LLP is representing the county in the lawsuit.
Last week, Miller, the attorney for the two women, said he believes the evidence in the case will show the commissioners had knowledge that sexual harassment at the sheriff’s office was widespread prior to the allegations being made by Decker and Graham.
Colin couldn’t go into specifics about the case but simply said he disagreed.
‘The commissioners dispute the claims made in the suit, and we believe the facts will bear out that the commissioners aren’t the proper parties responsible,’ Colin said yesterday. ‘Again, there’s a system of checks and balances in place, and the commissioners followed those checks and did what was in the best interest of the county at the time.’