(03/19/14) - Genesee County will pay four, female sheriff's department deputies, who sued claiming a male co-worker sexually harassed them, and the county didn't do enough to stop it, $500,000 for the county's portion of the lawsuit.
The women's attorney, Glen Lenhoff, says their civil lawsuit against that male co-worker, former Genesee County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Michael Chatterson, continues.
"The core of our civil case, against the county, is there was an outrageous incident," and years ago, Lenhoff said. He claims the sheriff's department didn't adequately respond.
"Which, in my opinion, led to the sex harassment that's the basis of this case."
"I did everything I could," said Sheriff Robert Pickell.
Pickell said the women, who still work in his department, didn't immediately report the allegations, but the department did act when they reported them and Chatterson was then suspended.
"I gave him more than what it was recommended by human relations."
Chatterson was later promoted to Lieutenant and oversaw the paramedic program.
Other sexually charged allegations surfaced in late 2012.
Chatterson was eventually fired and charged. Online court records show his criminal case is still at the district court level. Chatterson faces stalking and second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.
Lenhoff said Pickell should repay whatever, of the $500,000, comes out of county funds or resign right now.
"This happened on his watch," Lenhoff said. "The biggest scandal in the history of the Genesee County Sheriff's Department."
"That's lawyer talk," Pickell said. "That's ridiculous. Nobody can predict human behavior."
County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis said insurance will cover the cost of the settlement up to a certain point. He doesn't know how much.
Curtis said, based on all of the facts, he believes Pickell did everything he could do and it was in the best interest of the county to enter into the settlement agreement.
Each woman was awarded a different amount, according to the agreement provided by Lenhoff. The totals are listed as $90,000, $100,000, $110,000 and $200,000.
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