Apr 19, 2023 - News

Employees to split $1.75M in sexual harassment suit settlement with Collin County

Photo: Courtesy of Cormac West

Six employees who accused the Collin County district attorney of sexual harassment and other top officials of covering it up will split $1.75 million as part of a settlement with the county.

The big picture: The plaintiffs in the case were the DA's chief investigator, a deputy chief investigator, a former misdemeanor prosecutor, a prosecutor and two plaintiffs identified as Jane Doe.

Catch up fast: Filed in October, the 75-page federal lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation accused District Attorney Greg Willis of propositioning his female colleagues during work trips and closed-door meetings, making sexual comments and inappropriately touching employees.

  • The lawsuit also accused first assistant district attorney Bill Wirskye, County Judge Chris Hill and four county commissioners of complicity in covering up systemic misconduct.
  • At the time, Willis and Wirskye told the Dallas Morning News that the accusations were politically motivated.

Between the lines: Willis and Hill, who were seeking re-election when the lawsuit was filed, won their races. Willis ran unopposed.

State of play: The settlement was reached after 10 hours of mediation in February and approved by the county Commissioners Court this week.

  • Rogge Dunn, one of Willis’ lawyers, tells Axios the county's insurance company will pay out the settlement, which will be split among the six plaintiffs.
  • The plaintiffs have dropped their sexual harassment complaints from the lawsuit. Three of the plaintiffs still employed by the county agreed to resign as a condition of the settlement, Dunn said.

Of note: The plaintiffs’ lawyers could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

What they're saying: "These individuals care very deeply for each other’s well-being. That support gave them the courage to stand up for themselves, their rights, and those of their colleagues," Jeffrey Simon, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, said in a statement to KERA.

  • Hill told the station that county commissioners conducted their own investigation into the allegations against the original claims and found that "multiple employees directly disputed many of the allegations contained in the lawsuit."
  • "This case only settled because an insurance company decided it was cheaper to settle now than pay lawyers to defend the case. No taxpayer dollars were used in the settlement," Willis said in a statement to Axios.

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