Thursday, January 10, 2019

Harassment Leads To Resignation, Suspension Of Prosecutor

A 180-day suspension has been imposed by a hearing panel of the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board

 Based on respondent's admissions, plea of no contest and the stipulation of the parties, the panel found that respondent committed professional misconduct in his position as Branch County Prosecutor by sexually harassing and/or by failing to treat several employees of the Branch County Prosecutor's Office, Circuit Court and the Friend of the Court with courtesy and respect.

Specifically, the panel found that respondent engaged in conduct that violated a criminal law, MCL 750.520e (fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct), in violation of MCR 9.1 04(5); engaged in conduct that involved a violation of the criminal law where such conduct reflected adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, in violation of MRPC 8.4(b); and failed to treat with courtesy and respect all persons involved in the legal process and failed to take particular care to avoid treating such persons discourteously because of a person's race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic, in violation of MRPC 6.5(a). Respondent was also found to have violated MCR 9.104(2) and (3).

The story of his resignation from

In documents filed with the state's attorney disciplinary board, Kimble admits to six of the eight counts filed in the formal complaint against him. The prosecuting attorney's admissions include threatening, fat shaming, and sexually harassing staff, mostly women, at the Branch County Courthouse.

According to the documents, Kimble admitted to talking about the size of his penis to court employees on multiple occasions.

The Daily Reporter noted

Kimble said he will take the six month to work on his farm and with his trucking business, as well as snowmobile and relax with his children and step children.

The Detroit News had a story in March 2018

 A county prosecutor in southern Michigan has been barred from talking to certain women in the courthouse unless a male employee or a sheriff’s deputy is present.

It’s one of many conditions placed on Ralph Kimble by Branch County judges. He’s been accused of sexual harassment but firmly denies the allegations. There’s also a recall campaign against him.

A Feb. 22 order obtained by WWMT-TV says Kimble is barred from the second floor of the courthouse except for courtrooms or judges’ offices. He can’t speak alone to a female employee of the judiciary.

Kimble tells radio station WTVB that it’s “more dirty politics” by judges. He says he’s “not their team player.”

Another report from The Daily Reporter on the related civil suit.

A civil lawsuit against by former Branch County prosecutor’s office secretary Evon Staley against Branch County and Prosecutor Ralph Kimble has been settled.

The case was dismissed with prejudice and with all parties assuming their own costs and attorneys fees.

Staley, the senior secretary in the prosecutor’s office, filed for wrongful termination, intimidation, and for sexual harassment under the Michigan Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act in October 2017.

Kimble would only comment under instructions from his attorney that the case “has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties.” No one from Branch County, nor Staley’s attorney was available for comment.

No settlement agreement was filed with the court and terms of the settlement were not disclosed. County commissioners held a 20-minute closed door session July 24 to discuss litigation with attorney Christopher Johnson, the county counsel in the case.

The dismissal was signed by Cass County Probate Judge Susan Dobrick Sept. 17 at the request of attorneys in the case. Dobrick had sent the case for “facilitative mediation” in June.

JDobrich, chief circuit judge in the 43rd circuit court of Cass County, replaced Branch County Circuit Judge Bill O’Grady after he recused himself.

Staley claimed she was fired after complaining about three years of sexual harassment working for Kimble. The nine-year employee of District Court who worked 16 years with the prosecutor’s office claimed the sexual harassment was not only toward her, but other women in the courthouse in15th Circuit, Probate, and 3-A District courts, as well as other county agencies.

Her attorney listed 76 witnesses for the civil trial who were employees or who worked around the courthouse who he said complained of or witnessed Kimble’s conduct.

Staley said the unwanted verbal misconduct of a sexual nature toward her was both offensive and unwelcome. Staley said individually Kimble made unwanted touches of her, rubbed himself against her, asked her to engage in sex, called her at home asking about her sex life, and asked her to engage in sex within days of her husband dying.

Kimble has denied each allegation. He said Staley was fired only after a large indoor marijuana grow operation was located on her Grass Lake Road property by agents from the SWET unit of Michigan State Police.

The investigation was turned over to Michigan State Police. They conducted an investigation against Kimble which looked into sexual harassment and conduct against the second-term prosecutor The investigation went to the attorney general who said there was only one misdemeanor charge possible, but the woman involved declined to move forward with the case.

Others claims of misconduct by Kimble were found to be rumors or false.

The same allegation are the basis of a grievance by the Michigan Bar Association against Kimble which had been set for hearing by a three attorney panel Oct. 2 in Kalamazoo. Kimble denied each of the claims against him and asked for a public hearing on all the claims.

That hearing has been cancelled and no further date set.

Originally in the suit, Staley had asked to return to her job. Later she amended it to drop that request and move forward only on the harassment claims seeking unspecified money damages.

Staley, 58, her daughter Stephanie, 35, and her son’s girlfriend, Patricia Moses, 35, entered pleas to misdemeanor “disorderly person – maintaining a drug house” in a plea bargain handled by the Kalamazoo County prosecutor.

All were given time served for the time it took to book and bond them out of jail, plus ordered to pay $625 in fines and court costs.

Her son, Blake Staley, 38, pleaded guilty to manufacture of marijuana in a large grow operation in the family barn. He was placed on 18 months probation and given one day jail.

(Mike Frisch)

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