Commonwealth Journal

News Live

May 10, 2014

Harris: Lawsuits ‘politically motivated'

Jailer accused in two sexual harassment lawsuits

Somerset — Embattled Pulaski County Jailer Mike Harris said yesterday the recent slew of sexual harassment lawsuits against him stem from a personal vendetta on the part of attorney Robert E. Norfleet — the man who has represented all three of the plaintiffs.

Sexual harassment lawsuits against Harris filed by former Pulaski County Detention Center employees Rebecca Moses and Charlotte Bray were both settled for $137,500 each

Pulaski County officials received a letter from Norfleet this week stating that a third woman, Danielle Ivy, was also filing a lawsuit against Harris. Ivy is also a former PCDC employee.

“I’m flabbergasted,” Harris said Friday. ”Every bit of this is Robert Norfleet.”

Harris said the rift between he and Norfleet flamed up in “2010 or 2011” when the jailer denied Norfleet’s request to visit one of his clients housed at the PCDC at “1:30 in the morning.”

“I checked the sign-in sheets and Mr. Norfleet has already visited this client several times,” Harris said. “I told him I didn’t want to disrupt the entire jail that late and asked him to come back in the morning. He claimed I was denying his client his attorney rights.”

Harris and he and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Det. Scott Trotter were both subpoenaed to district court the next day.

“(Pulaski District Judge Scott Lawless) told me I had the right to set reasonable hours at the jail,” Harris said. ”I never intended to deny his client anything ... he already had visited this guy several times.

“But (Norfleet) wouldn’t let it go,” Harris added. “He told me ‘this isn’t over’ and said it would cost me my job.”

Norfleet said Harris was merely trying to deflect attention from the women’s complaints.

“I am disappointed and saddened by Jailer Mike Harris’ refusal to accept responsibility for engaging in sexual harassment, predatory behavior, and other unlawful conduct,” Norfleet said in a prepared statement. ”Elected officials’ behavior and conduct should be held to the highest level of scrutiny.  The people of Pulaski County, and those victimized by Jailer Harris, have been let down."

Harris also vehemently denied that he was guilty of sexually harassing anyone at the jail.

“There is no truth to those accusations whatsoever,” Harris said. “It seems odd to me that all of these women are represented by Norfleet. Did he recruit them to file these lawsuits?

“The whole thing is politically motivated and Norfleet is behind it,” Harris added.

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