The Catawba County District Attorney is speaking out about a lawsuit filed against him by a former employee alleging sexual misconduct and discrimination
The lawsuit was filed against Jay Gaither in federal court on Thursday afternoon by former Assistant District Attorney Whitney Nicole Shaffer
The lawsuit claims that Gaither made sexual advances towards Shaffer, sent her inappropriate text messages and often made her feel intimidated by the things he said to her.
"I have made a public statement regarding the true circumstances of my former employee's departure from my office," Gaither said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
"At this time I believe it is incumbent upon her to address the issue of whether she had a sexual relationship with a married defense attorney who regularly appeared as opposing counsel in her Court," Gaither's statment continued. "I believe she owes that to the voters of this district."
"While I am human and I make mistakes, I own up to the mistakes I make," Gaither continued. "This is not one of those occasions. Her claim of sexual harassment is unfounded and false, which is why her EEOC complaint was dismissed."
Gaither is referring to a discrimination claim Shaffer reportedly filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on October 25, 2013, according to the lawsuit. She claimed Gaither had violated a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The EEOC told WBTV that complaints made to the EEOC are strictly confidential, and it is "prohibited from commenting on them, furnishing any information on them, or even confirming or denying the existence of such a charge."
Shaffer worked as an Assistant District Attorney for the 25th District from February 2013 until May 2013. During that time, according to the lawsuit, Shaffer reported to Gaither.
In the lawsuit, Shaffer claims there were multiple sexual advances made to her during her time as an ADA for Catawba County.
Thirty-five screen grabs of text message conversations, which allegedly took place between Gaither and Shaffer, were filed with the lawsuit on Thursday.
During one exchange cited in the lawsuit, Gaither took Shaffer to dinner and made sexual advances to her during dinner. After dinner, he touched her thigh and then took her to his lake home, according to the lawsuit.
That's where Shaffer says Gaither attempted to kiss her and get her to come into his home for a "physical relationship."
Gaither told WBTV on Thursday night that the EEOC complaint was thrown out last year and says Shaffer was not telling the truth in the complaint.
Before this lawsuit was filed, Gaither told WBTV that he filed a complaint with the US Attorney's office about Shaffer's claims.
Gaither, who is married with four children, told WBTV that Shaffer resigned after alleged inappropriate behavior on her part.
Shaffer's attorney, John Buric, disagrees.
"I think it is about a woman who was working for a man in a very powerful position who we believe abused the position that he is in," Buric said.
Buric also said he's standing behind what's been filed in the lawsuit. "I think it speaks for itself, as to what my clients allegations are."
"It is unprecedented to have something like his filed just before an election," Gaither says of the lawsuit. "It is politically motivated and the voters need to decide if they want the election stolen from them."
He denies all the allegations and says he will fight them.