The chief administrator with the Madison County State’s Attorney’s office who was previously accused of sexual harassment is on paid administrative leave while under investigation for a second harassment claim.
Kevin Hendricks, who has worked at the prosecutor’s office since 2010, has been out of the office on paid leave since early August, pending results of an investigation into the second sexual harassment complaint.
Details about the second complaint, which involves a woman, were not immediately available as of Thursday. State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons declined to discuss details of the allegation.
In the first complaint against Hendricks, he was accused of sexual harassment in 2012 by then-secretary Andrew Kane.
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When Kane filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Madison County Board in April 2012, the claims of sexual harassment were found to be unsubstantiated.
But when taken to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, an investigation found that Madison County didn’t properly interview witnesses, and that there was substantial evidence — that is, enough evidence to be able to move forward with a legal claim — that a civil rights violation was committed with “pervasive” office sexual harassment. However, because the ruling was based solely on witness testimony, the allegation against Hendricks had to be resolved in court.
Gibbons disputed all of Kane’s allegations.
“His allegations were made in retaliation for being held accountable for inappropriate workplace conduct against co-workers,” Gibbons said Wednesday. “They are, simply stated, baseless.”
Kane’s statement to the IDHR said Hendricks harassed and bullied him for his clothing and physical size, and repeatedly questioned his sexuality. He said Hendricks called him “fag, homo, in reference to articles of clothing and fashion accessories and asking if I was sure I wasn’t gay.”
In some cases, Kane’s co-workers stepped up and told Hendricks he wasn’t being nice, and asked him to leave Kane alone, according to the IDHR report.
Barry Harris, Madison County director of administrative services, said after speaking to Gibbons, Hendricks and Kane’s supervisor, Peggy Schaake, it was determined that the behavior was “playful banter,” according to the IDHR ruling. Hendricks denied the claims against him.
“Kane regularly visited and hung around Hendricks’ office up until he was given notice of discipline (for workplace behavior),” Gibbons said. “He and Hendricks both agree they teased each other about their looks, their clothes, their weight, receding hairlines and a whole host of other things. It was banter between friends, and based on the fact that Kane continued it in after-work texts up to the day he was disciplined, clearly proves that Kane was not offended or harmed, let alone harassed.”
Kane was to be disciplined for “inappropriate” text messages to Hendricks after-hours about a new position Kane had taken on at work, and racially discriminatory conduct against a co-worker, Gibbons said.
Kane filed a federal lawsuit in February 2016, alleging unlawful sex discrimination and retaliation.
“People are scared to speak up,” Kane said. “Hendricks’ conduct does not appear to have been isolated, aberrant behavior, as this newest complaint lends credence to what I experienced with Hendricks in the past. I’m not surprised to hear it happened again.”
The federal lawsuit was still pending as of late December.
The Madison County State’s Attorney’s office was also facing another lawsuit from a previous employee as of late December. It alleges that Gibbons fired former Assistant State’s Attorney Julia Matoesian because of her age and gender. Matoesian, who was 75 when she was fired, had been with Madison County as an assistant state’s attorney for 17 years.
However, Matoesian conceded the state’s attorney’s motion for summary judgment in August, admitting in a statement to the court that she had rescinded 26 out of 90 DUI license suspensions, 19 of whom were represented by a friend, and was terminated shortly thereafter. Her suit was then dismissed.
Gibbons’ office was also sued in 2011 by Theresa Hagans, who alleged she was fired because of her disability. Madison County won that case.
(A previous version of this story misstated the status of the Matoesian suit. The BND regrets the error.)