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Grand jurors to hear case against sheriff

A special grand jury made up of five men and one woman, as well as one male alternate, has been selected to hear the alleged sexual harassment case against Harrison County Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick.
The special grand jury, selected in Harrison Superior Court Friday, will hear testimony from special prosecutor Nancy Jacobs of Switzerland County Nov. 23 through 25, Nov. 30 and Dec. 2 and 4.
Traditionally, the number of cases that come before Harrison Superior Court Judge Roger Davis drop as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, which is partially why those dates were selected. The dates also are selected based on the special prosecutor’s calendar.
In a new twist to the case, Harrison County Jail Commander Nathan Simpson, who was previously named as a witness in the now-settled federal case against Deatrick, could be the focus of another investigation. Jacobs said in court that the case against the sheriff will include sexual harassment claims as well as claims of intimidation and the destruction of evidence, including destruction of evidence by Simpson.
Simpson, who has worked for the county since March 2007, became jail commander after the late Christine Britton moved to a different position at the jail. Britton, who was not accused of any wrongdoing, also was named as a witness in the federal case, which was settled in June of this year.
In the original complaint filed in May 2008, dispatch supervisor Deana Decker alleged that over the course of the previous several years she had been continually sexually harassed by Deatrick, who allegedly grabbed her breasts ‘on numerous occasions’ in addition to making sexually derogatory comments.
‘He has held me against the wall and refused to let me leave the office,’ Decker alleged in the report. ‘On one occasion, he placed his hands down my pants.’
The report says Decker, an employee of the sheriff’s department since June 2000, spoke to two senior police officers about the treatment but that it had continued. The report did not identify who the two police officers were.
In a second complaint filed at the same time by former dispatcher Missie Graham, Graham alleges Deatrick left her sexually derogatory messages on her cell phone on numerous occasions in addition to making comments about her breasts.
Graham alleged that, in late December 2007, she told Deatrick enough was enough and, ‘he was not going to talk to me that way and he was not going to touch me anymore.’
The two women also claim that on May 12, 2008, Deatrick and his wife, Joyce, who is now the chief of the sheriff’s department, showed up at the Harrison County Justice Center. Graham and Decker, who were inside the dispatch center, allege the sheriff stared at them in a threatening manner while holding a handgun.
On the weekend of June 20, 2008, Deatrick and his staff called upon a service technician for Dallmann Systems Inc., which provides video surveillance at the justice center, to make sure a DVR DX8000 hard drive was copied correctly.
Decker and Graham split $375,500 to settle the federal discrimination suit.
The special grand jurors will likely hear from 16 witnesses, including Decker, Graham, Joyce Deatrick, investigators from the Indiana State Police, road officers and reserve officers from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, a former dispatcher, a former reserve officer and employees from Dallmann Systems.