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Madison County Sheriff’s Former Secretary Accuses Him of Harassment

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A former secretary for a southwestern Illinois sheriff has accused her ex-boss of inappropriately trying to pursue a romantic relationship with her, even as she was directed to write the department’s policy on sexual harassment.

The woman filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Madison County Sheriff Bob Hertz, the Belleville News-Democrat reported Thursday. No criminal charges have been filed, but a memo indicates that county officials investigated her complaint, which the newspaper said it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Hertz, who has been sheriff since 2002, directed The Associated Press on Thursday to contact the county’s state’s attorney, Tom Gibbons, for comment on his behalf, saying “now’s not the time or the place for me to weigh in at this time.” A message left with Gibbons was not immediately returned.

In the complaint, Jaimie Linton alleges that the 63-year-old sheriff repeatedly threatened her job, questioned her character, followed her during her lunch hour and threatened to have a private investigator pursue her. She also said Hertz asked a county information systems employee to secretly pull all Linton’s telephone and computer records, calling it a criminal matter.

The complaint also says the sheriff sent Linton emails unrelated to work and would become angry if she didn’t quickly respond.

In one email exchange attached to the complaint, Hertz wrote in September 2012, “I know, I think how you are and I hope you are with me and how I want things to move forward. Are you there? I can only hope. Keep me posted, please. I will be there for you … I need YOU to be there for ME.” An hour later, Linton replied: “I am here Sheriff … Be safe.”

When Linton told Hertz he was creating a “hostile work environment,” her complaint alleges, Hertz’s “intimidating and strange” behavior continued, though he never made any type of physical advance toward her.

Linton, who now works for the county’s probation and court services, didn’t immediately return phone messages Thursday.

Her complaint also included a memo from the county’s administrator, Joseph Parente, telling Linton that the county’s investigation of the complaint found that “the alleged conduct could have happened and that there was evidence that corroborated the allegations.”

Parente said he would have recommended that Hertz no longer supervise Linton had she stayed at the sheriff’s office, and that any further behavior or retaliatory action from Hertz would be “addressed.”

Parente didn’t return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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