Employees report pattern of intimidation, control, manipulation and retaliation by county’s top prosecutors
DALLAS – Six current and former employees of the Collin County District Attorney’s office have filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against District Attorney Greg Willis and First Assistant Bill Wirskye, alleging a pattern of ongoing sexual harassment.
Also named in the lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas by Jeffrey Simon of Simon Greenstone Panatier, P.C. and Susan Hutchison of Hutchison & Foreman, PLLC, are Collin County Judge Chris Hill, and Commissioners Darrell Hale, Susan Fletcher, Duncan Webb and Cheryl Williams.
According to the filing, Mr. Willis “treats many female employees as objects that, without their consent, must gratify his sexual impulses and personal vanity” while Mr. Wirskye runs the office as “a crass, misogynistic fraternity complete with systemic hazing of the County’s attorneys, investigators and staff.”
In her role as chief investigator, plaintiff Kim Pickrell works closely with Mr. Willis, including one-on-one weekly strategy meetings in his private office where, according to the filed complaint, he frequently touched her in an inappropriate manner. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Willis also subjected her to unwarranted “full frontal body hugs while pressing her breasts into his chest, rubbing her lower back with his hands and moaning” on a repeated basis. Other plaintiffs make similar allegations against Mr. Willis.
The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Willis uses his position of power to force unwanted touching, knowing “the female employee is in no position to rebuff him” and that “once he comes to understand that there will be no actual sexual interlude, he is gratified by expressing his anger through acts of intimidation, control, manipulation and retaliation.”
Deputy Chief Keith Henslee, a named plaintiff, noted in the filing that it was “common” to see women leave Mr. Willis’ office sobbing, despite Mr. Wirskye’s “no crying” policy for the office in which he regularly told staff “go home if you’re gonna cry” and “nobody gives a **** about your feelings.”
The plaintiffs contend that when alerted to Mr. Willis’ and Mr. Wirskye’s behavior and the toxic environment it was creating, commissioners told the plaintiffs to talk with the Human Resources department but failed to take action to address the ongoing problem or help the affected staff members. According to the complaint, when several plaintiffs reported Mr. Willis’ conduct to Human Resources, department heads advised the plaintiffs that they deemed Mr. Willis to be “untouchable” and that they therefore could take no remedial action.
The lawsuit is Kim Pickrell, Keith Henslee, Fallon LaFleur, Vykim Le, Jane Doe 1, and Jane Doe 2 v. Collin County, Greg Willis, Bill Wirskye, Darrell Hale, Susan Fletcher, Chris Hill, Cheryl Williams, and Duncan Webb, (Case No. 3:22-cv-02425-D, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.)
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