Harrison sheriff indicted on 10 felonies
Two others also indicted by grand jury
April 07, 2010A special grand jury indicted Harrison County Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick Thursday on 10 felonies and two misdemeanors stemming from several incidents that allegedly took place between July 25, 2005, and June 30, 2008.
Deatrick was indicted on two felony counts of criminal deviate conduct (one was a Class A, the other a Class B); three counts of Class C felony sexual battery; three counts of Class D felony sexual battery; a single count each of obstruction of justice and insurance fraud, both Class D felonies; and two counts of Class A misdemeanor intimidation.
In addition to the 64-year-old Democratic sheriff, the special grand jury — made up of five men and one woman — also handed up indictments for Harrison County Jail Commander Nathan Simpson and former corrections officer Dee Walden. Simpson was indicted on a Class D felony charge of obstruction of justice and Class A and B misdemeanor charges of false reporting or informing; Walden was indicted on a single count of Class D felony insurance fraud.
The grand jury, which met off and on for the past several months, heard from the sheriff last Monday and Tuesday, started deliberations Wednesday and came to a conclusion Thursday.
Both Deatrick, who appeared before Judge Roger Davis at 9:47 p.m., and Walden, who appeared at 8:55, were in Harrison Superior Court Thursday before being handcuffed and taken to the jail for processing. Simpson, who was out of town Thursday, turned himself in Friday. His initial hearing is set for May 10.
Deatrick was released after posting 10 percent of a $90,000 bond; Walden was released after posting 20 percent of her $4,000 bond; and Simpson was released after posting 20 percent of his $5,750 bond.
As part of his bond agreement, Deatrick is to have no contact with Harrison County Dispatch Supervisor Deana Decker or former dispatcher Missie Graham, the two women who made the sexual harassment claims against Deatrick. In regard to Decker, who still heads the dispatch center, Deatrick can only make contact with her for official law enforcement purposes if she answers his call in dispatch.
"This court will not tolerate, nor any other court would tolerate, under these kinds of circumstances, any kind of violation, so you need to understand that quite carefully," Davis told Deatrick.
Deatrick's pre-trial is set for May 24 with a trial scheduled to begin July 20. Walden's pre-trial date is June 9 at 1 p.m., with her trial slated for Aug. 4.
Special Prosecutor Nancy Jacobs said the indictments were "just the beginning" of the legal process and were a formal method of bringing a charge against an individual.
"The sheriff, like any criminal defendant, is presumed innocent until and unless the state of Indiana proves him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Jacobs said.
"It's a difficult and sad situation for the department, the officers and the employees at the sheriff's department who are doing their job," Harrison County Commissioner James Goldman said. "They should be commended."
The grand jury, which only hears evidence from the prosecution's side with no opportunity for rebuttal, was convened in early November and then spent six days later in the month and in early December reviewing evidence from an Indiana State Police investigation that began in 2008. That's when Decker alleged that, over the course of several years, she had been continually sexually harassed by Deatrick, who allegedly grabbed her breasts "on numerous occasions" in addition to making sexually derogatory comments. Decker also alleges that Deatrick put his hand down her pants and touched her inappropriately.
A second complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the same date of that year, May 6, by Graham, alleged Deatrick left Graham sexually derogatory messages on her cell phone on numerous occasions in addition to making comments about her breasts.
(Graham and Decker didn't file a formal complaint with Harrison County Prosecutor Dennis Byrd until June 2 and 3, respectively).
The accusations led to a federal lawsuit filed with the EEOC, which later was settled for $375,500. The settlement required the sheriff and his deputies and corrections officers, including both full- and part-time employees, to attend training to ensure the sheriff's department avoided sexual harassment.
The two women then alleged that days after the EEOC allegations came out, Deatrick and his wife, Joyce, who was the jail matron at the time, showed up at the Harrison County Justice Center one evening and that the sheriff held a handgun while looking at them in a threatening manner through a window that separates the dispatch office from the main lobby of the justice center.
On June 3, 2008, the day after the second complaint was filed to Byrd's office, the prosecutor asked that the Indiana State Police investigate the allegations and that he preferred that a detective from outside of the Sellersburg District do the investigation.
From there, investigators spent several months compiling evidence. They also had to determine whether or not anyone tampered with the video surveillance system in an effort to damage or destroy images that may have captured the alleged act.
On July 28, the Indiana State Police filed a report with the Harrison County Prosecutor's Office alleging possible misconduct by an office holder. On that same day, Byrd asked Judge Davis to appoint a special prosecutor. On Aug. 4, Davis appointed Jacobs to the case.
Also in 2008, the county commissioners removed the dispatch center from the sheriff's control and put Greg Reas, director of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, in charge.
Most of 2009 was spent with the federal suit against Deatrick, who suffered a heart attack last April. Deatrick made his wife chief deputy in August and, in September, the sheriff's department began its mandatory EEOC training. In October, Harrison County Commissioner Terry Miller penned a letter asking for Deatrick to step down from his position because he "continues to make decisions that put Harrison County at risk of further legal issues."
Deatrick, whose final term ends Dec. 31, is not required to resign because of the indictment. Regarding the case at hand, Deatrick only would be removed from office if he was convicted of a felony.
Simpson, Walden indicted
The grand jury charges that Harrison County Jail Commander Nathan Simpson "did alter, damage, or remove" video images and/or hard drive information from the security camera DVR system at the Harrison County Justice Center. The grand jury also charges that Simpson gave false information regarding the actions he took to preserve video images and/or hard drive information from the security camera DVR.
The grand jury alleges Simpson did so, "knowing the information he provided to be false and in so doing did substantially hinder the law enforcement process."
Regarding former corrections officer Dee Walden, the grand jury charges that she "knowingly and with intent to defraud, cause an oral, written or electronic statement that she knew to contain materially false information to be prepared" in support of a fact that was material to a claim for payment or benefits under an insurance policy.
Deatrick's charge of insurance fraud contained similar language.
Timeline of events
May 5 — Harrison County dispatch supervisor Deana Decker and dispatcher Missie Graham file claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick touched them inappropriately and made lewd remarks.
May 12 — Decker and Graham allege that after hours, Deatrick and his wife, then matron, Joyce, showed up at the Harrison County Justice Center. They allege that Deatrick, who was not in uniform at the time, brandished an unholstered firearm and looked at them in a threatening manner through a window to the dispatch center.
June 2 — Graham submits a written complaint against Deatrick with Harrison County Prosecutor Dennis Byrd.
June 3 — Decker submits a written complaint against Deatrick with Byrd; Byrd requests Indiana State Police to investigate claims against the sheriff.
June 11 — ISP Det. David Mitchell assigned to the case.
July 28 — ISP files report with Byrd's office alleging possible criminal conduct by Deatrick.
July 29 — Byrd asks Superior Court Judge Roger D. Davis for a special prosecutor to avoid the appearance of impropriety and/or a conflict of interest.
Aug. 4 — Davis appoints Nancy Jacobs, who at the time was the chief deputy prosecutor in Scott County, as special prosecutor.
Aug. 19 — Mitchell uses search warrant to acquire videotaped evidence from the Justice Center that may substantiate the dispatchers' claims from the May 12 incident.
Oct. 16 — EEOC releases its findings that it believes violations occurred, which would allow a federal civil lawsuit to proceed at the U.S. District Court in New Albany.
Dec. 15-16 — Witness and exhibit lists filed with federal court, naming nearly 70 individuals, most who are employed at the justice center or who are friends of employees.
March 5 — Feds sue Deatrick, current and former Harrison County commissioners and county council, alleging civil rights of Decker and Graham were violated and created a hostile work environment. The women's' lawyer, Charles W. Miller, said they were seeking $6.25 million in damages if the suit went to trial; however, he offered to settle for $2.5 million for Decker and $2 million for Graham.
March 29 — Former Harrison County Jail commander Christine Britton dies of self-inflicted gunshot wound. Though not accused of any wrongdoing, she was mentioned in a search warrant affidavit submitted more than a week earlier in the sheriff's sexual harassment and intimidation case.
April 4 — Deatrick suffers heart attack. In his absence, then-Chief Eric Fischer heads the sheriff's department.
June 15 — Federal civil suit settled, with Decker and Graham to split $375,500. In addition to monetary damages, full- and part-time employees of the sheriff's department ordered to undergo EEOC training to prevent further sexual harassment.
Aug. 25 — Davis signs court order allowing Jacobs to convene a grand jury on Oct. 30. In addition to Deatrick, the investigation was expanded to include other anonymous individuals. Jacobs believes the investigation revealed "potentially criminal conduct by individual(s) other than" Sheriff Deatrick.
Sept. 10 — Sheriff's department employees undergo first round of EEOC training. Another round will take place in September 2010 and May 2011.
Oct. 6 — County commissioner Terry L. Miller submits letter to Deatrick calling for his resignation.
Oct. 30 — A list of 16 witnesses scheduled to appear before the grand jury is released.
Nov. 23-25, Nov. 30 — A special grand jury made up of five men and one woman, as well as one male alternate, is selected. The grand jury will meet again Dec. 2 and 4. Also, Harrison County Jail Commander Nathan Simpson, who was previously named as a witness in the now-settled federal case against Deatrick, could be the focus of another investigation. Jacobs said in court that the case against the sheriff will include the destruction of evidence, including destruction of evidence by Simpson.
March 30-31 — Deatrick appears before grand jury.
April 1 — Deatrick and Dee Walden indicted in Harrison Superior Court then released on bond.
April 2 — Simpson turns himself in and bonds out. His initial hearing is May 10.