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Sexual Harassment Suit Settled

The Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) paid secretary Charlene Atchinson $85,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit filed against Warden Jack Garner and Regional Director Marshal Herklotz of the Palestine Unit in East Texas.

In the suit, Ms. Atchinson alleged Warden Garner unzipped his pants in front of her, made suggestive remarks and favored women who acquiesced to his behavior. Mr. Herklotz was accused of forcibly kissing her, pulling her onto his lap and making suggestive phone calls. Both men and the TDC deny any misconduct occurred.

The TDC fought for 4 months to keep the suit and its settlement secret. The "Dallas Morning News" challenged the secrecy of the settlement and won by arguing that expenditure of public funds by a state agency is expressly public under Texas State law.

After the lawsuit was filed, dozens of sexual harassment complaints were filed by female TDC employees.

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