Collin County officials face sexual harassment lawsuit
A federal lawsuit filed this week accuses Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis of sexually harassing former and current employees.
- The lawsuit alleges Willis propositioned women he worked with during work trips and during closed-door meetings.
- Willis has "categorically and unequivocally" denied the allegations, telling the Dallas Morning News "they did not happen."
Why it matters: The 75-page lawsuit names several of the most powerful officials in the county, including Judge Chris Hill, four county commissioners and First Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirskye, alleging they were complicit in covering up systemic misconduct.
- Hill and Willis are both up for re-election next week. Willis, who was first elected to his office in 2010, is running unopposed.
The big picture: The suit was filed by the district attorney's chief investigator, a deputy chief investigator, a former misdemeanor prosecutor, a prosecutor and two plaintiffs identified as Jane Doe.
- The lawsuit alleges that Willis repeatedly made sexual comments and inappropriately touched employees and that Wirskye routinely hazed female employees.
- Wirskye is also accused of referring to groups of prosecutors profanely and calling female prosecutors "bitches, whores and sluts."
- The county commissioners were also named because, the suit alleges, they "have known of this misconduct for years but have continued to enable it."
Context: Because the accusers were all county employees at the time, they were at the mercy of the elected officials they worked for.
The other side: "The citizens of Collin County deserve better than these dishonest and politically motivated attacks that waste time and money," Willis said in an email to the DMN. His attorney, Rogge Dunn, called the allegations "sour grapes by some disgruntled former and current employees who had performance issues."
- Wirskye called the lawsuit "politically motivated and politically timed" and "based on lies."
- A spokesperson for the county told D Magazine that it wouldn't comment on pending litigation.
Between the lines: Willis has close ties to embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In 2015, Willis recused himself from looking into allegations that Paxton violated state securities laws before a team of special prosecutors took over the probe and indicted Paxton.
Details: Kim Pickrell, the DA's chief investigator, alleges that Willis frequently gave her "full-frontal body hugs" in which he pressed her breasts into his chest, rubbed her lower back and moaned.
- Pickrell said in the lawsuit that Willis tried to kiss her on the mouth on one occasion and told her he "couldn't help himself getting excited because she looked too good."
- Prosecutor VyKim Le alleges that Willis told her he couldn't find a file on his computer, then instructed her to sit in his desk chair and began massaging her shoulders and moaning.
The bottom line: The lawsuit alleges the commissioner's court could have reprimanded Willis and Wirskye for their behavior, but "chose to look the other way."
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