Commonwealth Journal

May 13, 2014

Court opts out of promised ‘stand’

Magistrates had promised a public response to harassment claims against jailer

by Jeff Neal
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Pulaski Fiscal Court, in the face of a second large monetary settlement involving a sexual harassment claim against Pulaski Jailer Mike Harris, vowed last week to take a stand against “inappropriate behavior.”

“At the next meeting of the Pulaski Fiscal Court, we will stand united against inappropriate behavior and make it public record by passing a resolution to that effect,” read a press release issued by Pulaski County-Judge Executive Barty Bullock and magistrates Jason Turpen, Mike Wilson, Tommy Barnett, Glenn Maxey and Mike Strunk.

At yesterday’s meeting, no such action was taken. It never came up.

“A resolution is forthcoming; the final draft was not ready for court today,” Bullock said in a statement yesterday afternoon. “We had been advised to seek outside counsel as to the wording of our resolution and that is how we’reproceeding.”

Maxey told the Commonwealth Journal that magistrates “had been advised not to speak publicly about the (Mike Harris) situation.”

“(Harris) hasn’t been charged with a crime,” Maxey said.”And all of this has nothing to do with fiscal court ... it’s about our jailer.”

When asked whether he advised fiscal court on the issue, Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield said he hadn’t discussed the issue with Bullock or the magistrates.

“No, I haven’t advised them either way,” said Hatfield.

Deputy Judge Rita Curry said the advice came from someone at KaCO (Kentucky Association of Counties).

Robert Norfleet, the attorney who represented Charlotte Bray and Rebecca Moses in sexual harassment cases against Harris and Pulaski Fiscal Court, was “disappointed” the court didn’t pass the resolution yesterday.

"Based on the press release from the Pulaski County Government, fiscal court promised to take a public unified stand against discrimination, retaliation, bullying, assaults, and hostility of any kind,” Norfleet said. “They promised to pass a resolution to that effect at today's fiscal court meeting. I am surprised and disappointed by the Pulaski County Fiscal Court's apparent decision not to follow through with a resolution expressing support for female Pulaski County employees.”

The lawsuits were both settled out of court for $137,500 each. A third sexual harassment lawsuit involving another former PCDC employee may be in the works, according to letters sent by Norfleet to Bullock last week.