Employees accuse Lincoln Jailer of sexual harassment, discrimination

Published 12:19 pm Thursday, November 21, 2019

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STANFORD – In a recent lawsuit filed against Lincoln County Jailer Rob Wilson, and Lincoln County, a total of eight employees have accused the jailer of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and the county of failing to take action when it was reported.

A total of seven female jail employees filed affidavits in support of the motion for a restraining order, detailing their individual experiences with Wilson and the alleged sexual harassment they have endured as employees of the Lincoln County Regional Jail (LCRJ).

From May 2015 to present, the lawsuit alleges Wilson “engaged in a continuous and repeated course of conduct constituting sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, as well as quid pro quo sexual activities to the legal and physical detriment of the plaintiffs.”

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In a signed affidavit, Brettany St. Lawrence alleges Wilson made comments regularly that made her uncomfortable at work, such as wishing he had a large amount of quarters so she could “bend over and pick them up in front of him” and “what he could have done with me if he were 20 years younger.”

“Wilson repeatedly hugged me and has kissed my face,” St. Lawrence writes. “Jailer Wilson once showed me a nude picture of a female and told me that the female had sent him the picture.”

Wilson “frequently and repeatedly” attempted to get LCRJ employee Erica Sampson to send him nude pictures of herself and allegedly asked her to perform oral sex acts” according to her signed affidavit.

Sampson also alleges Wilson grabbed her and her breasts and patted her down.

Sexual and verbal comments were also made to employee Charlotte Burchett, who accused Wilson of making crude comments while staring at her breasts, such as “I bet your husband has his hands full with all that” and “I could get that but it would cost me.”

Wilson allegedly told Sergeant Deputy Jailer April Benedict that he’d like to make yoga pants her official uniform “just for him to see.” According to her affidavit, Wilson also asked Benedict’s minor daughters if they “would like to call him ‘daddy’.”

Each of the seven affidavits, which were notarized by Chief Deputy Jailer Robin Jones, claim that Wilson gave favorable scheduling, positions and promotions to one or more females with whom he was engaged in a personal relationship.

A male employee, James Gibson, also claims that Wilson denied him a promotion and demoted him in order to “give preferential employment treatment to a female employee” with whom Wilson was “personally and closely affiliated” and who was “no better qualified for the job.”

If anyone complained to Wilson or asked him to stop, he would tell them to quit, according to the employees. Several employees said they feared for their safety during their breaks and therefore went several hours without taking breaks, just to avoid Wilson.

Tiffany Ellis, who started working full-time at LCRJ in 2018, said every time she walked outside for a break, or came into work, Wilson would wrap his arms around her in a tight hug and kiss her on her face.

“This caused me to work five-to-six hours without a break because I did not want to encounter Jailer Wilson,” she wrote.

On another occasion, Ellis claims Wilson told her that he would like to kick her husband out of the hotel room on her honeymoon. That comment was witnessed by another employee, Lecia Hoskins.

Hoskins had her own set of complaints, including being demoted in order for Wilson to promote another female deputy with whom he was having a personal relationship.

Brittany Tillett, wrote that Wilson began taking pictures of her at work and when she asked him to stop, “he just laughed.”

“He would sometimes send me copies of the pictures he was taking,” she wrote in her affidavit. “This made me feel very uncomfortable because I didn’t want some man, especially my boss, taking pictures of me.”

Tillett claims Wilson often told employees they were “replaceable” and “brags that he is ‘untouchable.’”

At another time, Wilson allegedly told Tillett she was “built like a brick house” when she was selecting uniform pants. On another occasion, Tillett said Wilson found her alone in the stock room and said “Mmm, mmm, mmm, what I would have done to you if I was 20 years younger.”

Wilson attempted to get Tillett alone in a room often, according to her affidavit. At one point, he allegedly found her alone in the stock room, locked the door and stared “creepily” at her.

“I was seriously concerned that Jailer Wilson would make some effort to sexually assault me or make sexual advances toward me in the room with the door locked,” Tillett wrote. Eventually, after giving him a “menacing stare,” Wilson left the room, she said.

Wilson is being sued in his individual and official capacity. Lincoln County has also been named as a defendant.

According to the lawsuit, in an effort to stop Wilson’s conduct, “some of the plaintiffs recently met with the Lincoln County Attorney, and met with the Lincoln County Judge Executive, Jim Adams Jr., to seek assistance with the situation” but were allegedly informed by Judge Adams that there was nothing the county could do because Wilson “holds the constitutional office of Jailer and cannot be terminated.”

Adams said he was unable to comment on the allegations at this time.

Lincoln County Attorney Daryl Day said since the suit involves employees of a county agency making allegations against a county elected official, he is not involved in the legal representation.

“Obviously, my first priority is the fiscal court, but we have referred it all out to KACO (Kentucky Association of Counties),” Day said. “They will be handling all of the defense of it, from the county side and also from Rob’s (Wilson) side.”

As of Wednesday, the county has not received any letter of resignation, according to Day.

“Rob has not resigned,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t know, right now, that there’s any plan for him to resign.”

Plaintiffs are seeking a restraining order and temporary injunction to keep Wilson from making any direct contact or communication with them, at least until the litigation has concluded, and to restrain him from entering the Lincoln County Regional Jail, the Jailer’s Office, and the homes of plaintiffs.

According to one affidavit, Wilson has recently “begun to state that he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder” and that he has been checking himself into a rehabilitation facility.” A duty weapon was reportedly missing from the jail, causing employees further concern, as it was found in Wilson’s possession.

On Oct. 10, the gun was reported missing and the following day, the local police department alerted the jail they had received a suicide note from Wilson and stated that he was missing.

Wilson was not available for comment this week. Day said a hearing has not been scheduled as of Wednesday this week.

The lawsuit states the court is the “only remaining avenue of protection for the plaintiffs” and the relief sought by them would still allow Wilson to “communicate with other employees at the jail, which can be supervised by a Chief Deputy Jailer” in Wilson’s absence.

Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a trial by jury “on all issues so triable” and recovery of legal costs. They are being represented by Lexington attorneys of Cooley Iuliano Robey, PLLC.