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Head of Ohio Juvenile Facility Fired Following Complaints of Sexual Harassment

The Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) said in a May 2010 report that it had found substantial evidence to validate numerous harassment charges against Thomas Teague, an 11-year ODYS employee, which justified his immediate firing.

According to an Associated Press article, female employees at the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility, where Teague served as superintendent, told investigators that he “made comments to them in classrooms, touched their buttocks, kissed them on the cheek, and often commented on their clothes and weight loss,” including one woman who claimed that he “grabbed her knee under the table during a staff meeting.”

Another woman alleged that Teague said he “would like to spend the afternoon under your desk,” while a different female employee stated he wanted to do “sexual things” while wearing a Batman costume.

Teague, who denied the charges, told investigators he had “tried to create a family atmosphere at the institution which often consisted of him hugging female staff and kissing some of them,” though such acts were not “sexual or arousing.”

The ODYS was assisted in its investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which interviewed witnesses and conducted polygraph tests on Teague and four female employees who made allegations against him. The polygraphs indicated that Teague was being deceptive while his accusers were not.

According to Kim Parsell, spokeswoman for the ODYS, “We placed Mr. Teague on administrative leave immediately once the allegations of misconduct were made known. The decision to terminate him was in line with the agency’s zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and promotes the otherwise professional environments of our offices and our facilities.” Parsell also said there were no allegations of misconduct involving youth at the Circleville facility, which houses male juvenile offenders.

After a review of the case, city prosecutor Gary Kenworthy decided not to bring criminal charges against Teague. “There may be some civil issues there as far as sexual harassment charges, but nothing from a criminal standpoint,” he stated.

Teague, 41, has also worked as an adjunct professor at Ohio Christian University. The university’s president, Dr. Mark Smith, said Teague has never been employed directly by the school but occasionally taught a class at the Circleville campus. “As soon as we can confirm details, it will be addressed swiftly, and no inappropriate behavior will be tolerated,” Dr. Smith remarked.

ODYS named Chris D. Baker, Sr. as superintendent at the Circleville facility after Teague was fired on May 26, 2010.

Source: Associated Press

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