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Deputy claims sexual harassment by jailer in Barren County suit
[September 17, 2008]

Deputy claims sexual harassment by jailer in Barren County suit

(Daily News, The (Bowling Green, KY) (KRT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sep. 17--A Barren County deputy has filed suit against Jailer Leland Cox for alleged assault, battery and sexual harassment.

The suit was filed by Bowling Green attorney B. Alan Simpson on behalf of Sylvia Davidson of Glasgow who was hired by Cox at the jail in 1997. The Barren County Correction Center and Barren County were also named in the suit filed Monday in Barren Circuit Court.

Davidson's suit accuses Cox of touching her in a sexual nature, making comments to her with sexual overtones and innuendo and entering her residence while she was employed at the jail. These actions are alleged to have occurred between 2006 and 2008.

Cox came into Davidson's home one day while she was home sick, entered the house and then ended up walking into the plaintiff's bedroom, Simpson said. Her son was in the house at the time.

"There's not many employers who would do that," he said.

The conduct was "offensive and harmful, was without her consent, and was unjustifiable and without privilege," according to the lawsuit.

Cox's actions placed Davidson in imminent fear and apprehension about her own physical safety, according to the suit.

The conduct by Cox continued despite Davidson's attempts to stop the behavior and complaints made by the plaintiff. Cox's alleged actions created an intimidating and hostile work environment, according to the lawsuit.

The county was included in the lawsuit because of alleged negligence by not properly training or overseeing Cox. The county and the correction center had a duty to enforce policies and procedures relating to claims of sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit.

Cox has also been charged criminally regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct. Cox, 58, 1610 Slash Road, Cave City, was charged with 40 counts of third-degree sexual abuse following an investigation by Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement/ Special Investigations West. The charges are Class B misdemeanors, punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a fine of $250.

The allegations are that Cox touched at least six female jail employees inappropriately by grabbing their breasts, according to the arrest citation.

Cox has stepped down as jailer pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Cox should not be in charge of anyone, Simpson said. In particular he should not be in charge of inmates who don't have a lot of recourse about what happens to them, Simpson said.

Davidson is seeking undisclosed punitive damages, medical expenses, attorney fees and court costs.

Jeffrey Sharp, Barren County attorney, said the lawsuit has been turned over to the Kentucky Association of Counties, which will likely be responsible for handling the suit as the county's insurer.

The county has no comment about elements of the suit because it is pending litigation, Sharp said.

The next hearing in the criminal case is Oct. 22 in Barren District Court.

Glasgow Attorney Bobby Richardson, who is representing Cox in the criminal proceeding, did not returns calls for comment.

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