YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - A former DNA lab worker with the York County Sheriff’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the department, the county, and Sheriff Kevin Tolson.
According to the lawsuit, 44-year-old Crystal Kissel claims she was the target of age and sex discrimination after voicing concerns about investigators altering case files - a practice she says would deny suspects a fair trial.
The lawsuit states Kissel, who was hired in Feb. 2011 as the DNA Technical Leader then later as YCSO's Forensic DNA Technical Leader, was forced to resign or be terminated on Oct. 25, 2017.
Kissel claims that forced resignation was in retaliation for having reported several perceived issues at YCSO.
She says she was falsely accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a fellow employee, had her supervisory duties stripped from her, and was forced to work in a hostile environment after a sex scandal at the sheriff’s office that resulted in her supervisor being suspended.
The investigation into that scandal led to six deputies being disciplined, including two who were fired. The lawsuit states when when one of those employees and Kissel's supervisor, Capt. Carson Neely, returned to work after his suspension, male employees were treated for favorably.
Kissel claims her phone was tapped, inappropriate comments were made about her, and her lab was shut down. She also claims that younger female employees were given more training opportunities than her.
In the lawsuit, Kissel claims financial losses, mental anguish and emotional distress, and that she "lost enjoyment of life."
WBTV reached out to the YCSO for a statement.
“The Plaintiff resigned from her position as the DNA Technical Leader for the Sheriff’s Office on October 25, 2017. She then filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On June 29, 2018, the EEOC issued a no-cause determination and stated, ‘Based upon its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes,’” the sheriff’s office wrote.
The statement continued, “This lawsuit followed the EEOC’s determination. The Sheriff’s Office was served with this suit on October 1, 2018 and attorneys for the Sheriff’s Office are currently in the process of drafting a response to the allegations contained in the lawsuit. The Sheriff’s Office looks forward to vigorously defending against these allegations in the appropriate forum.”