Documents detail sexual harassment complaint against Tarrant County DA

Print
Email
|

by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 26 at 3:57 PM

FORT WORTH — Tarrant County released a 17-page hand-written journal Friday among more than 100 pages of documents detailing the sexual harassment allegations filed against District Attorney Joe Shannon by an assistant prosecutor in his office.

Last September, the county paid the accuser — a 44-year-old assistant prosecutor — $375,000 as part of an out-of-court, no-fault settlement. County documents show that it cost another $100,000 to hire outside counsel to investigate the prosecutor’s claims.

In October, Tarrant County asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for advice on whether to release the findings. On January 9, Abbott ruled the county must make them public.

Since settling, the county has maintained that no public employee was at fault. The move was strictly a business decision, as the litigation in the courtroom would be more costly than the settlement.

In a statement, Shannon says “there are two sides to this controversy” and argues that each of the claims have been disputed.

“I realize that the County viewed the settlement from a business viewpoint,” he writes. “That is its prerogative and I respect its right to this view, even though I disagreed.

“However, some who want to believe the worst will view the payment of any sum as an admission of wrongdoing,” he added. “The No-Fault Settlement Agreement states that all parties agreed that no such inference should be made nor was it intended by the parties."

The hand-written complaint was culled from the accuser’s notes since the alleged harassment began. She said that Shannon started with comments about how she looked “nice” and progressed into something worse.

Soon, the complaint says, Shannon’s began mentioning the woman’s breasts and buttocks. On one occasion, the accuser says the district attorney physically spanked her buttocks before a meeting.

“I could not believe what had just happened. I knew what it would mean for my career if I said anything, but I was furious that he would find it acceptable or even think it was appropriate,” she wrote.

She also added that he told her things between them should be kept quiet, and she claimed she was told by colleagues Shannon was in love with her.

During a trip to San Antonio, the accuser says Shannon frequently attempted to convince her to have a drink with him in his hotel room. While on the plane, the prosecutor describes being physically ill, dreading more harassment.

This trip, the accuser says, is when she began writing down each incident, even going so far as to buy a pen that records sound.

Shannon, meanwhile, said he was taken aback by the claims.

"The first time a complaint was brought to my attention was in the spring of 2012 and on the heels of some job reassignments,” he wrote in the statement. “It came as a complete surprise."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|