Defeated Circuit Clerk Accused Of Sexual Harassment Loses Lawsuit
SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) – The former Sebastian County Circuit Clerk accused in a sexual harassment inquiry had his lawsuit against the county judge dismissed, after the clerk accused the judge of costing him re-election in 2012, according to a judge’s ruling released Friday.
Miller County Circuit Court Judge Kirk Johnson, out of Texarkana, dismissed the lawsuit Nov. 3 after being appointed to the case to avoid any potential conflicts of interest by local Sebastian County judges, according to the ruling.
Johnson found former Sebastian County Circuit Clerk Ken Blevins did not have enough evidence for the lawsuit to go forward blaming County Judge David Hudson for his 2012 primary loss. The loss came after two sets of grievance hearings were held concerning the alleged sexual harassment of six women under Blevins and the subsequent firing of two of them, according to court documents.
Blevins alleged in his lawsuit against Hudson that the county judge’s comments about the grievance hearings to media in 2011 cast Blevins in a false light and cost him his elected position. The county judge had told a local media outlet a circuit clerk can hire and fire within his office, but a firing must follow proper procedures and not violate the constitutions of Arkansas or the U.S.
The judge’s ruling found Hudson’s comments were not proven to be false and that Blevins did not have enough evidence to prove he was being presented in a false light.
Blevins had sought unspecified damages, punitive damages and attorney fees in the lawsuit.
Six deputy clerks under Blevins came forward in April 2011 and filed sexual harassment claims against the circuit clerk, claiming a hostile work environment. A ruling the next month by the county’s grievance committee found Blevins sexually harassed the women, but did not lay out any disciplinary measures against the circuit clerk, court documents state.
Blevins that November fired two deputy clerks who had made allegations against him, spurring another grievance hearing. The grievance committee found the women were fired without just cause and as retaliation for their sexual harassment claims against Blevins, according to a summary of facts in the judge’s ruling.
The committee ordered the women be reinstated to their previous jobs. Blevins refused at first to reinstate them, but later gave them their jobs back after the court compelled him to do so.