Chester Co Sheriff being sued for alleged sexual harassment - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Chester Co Sheriff being sued for alleged sexual harassment

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The head of law enforcement in Chester County is being sued after a former captain of the Sheriff's Department says she was sexually harassed and coerced to have sex with her boss, the Sheriff.

Sheriff Alex Underwood spoke with reporters shortly after he was sworn into office in 2013 because he said someone poisoned and killed his dog. Earlier Monday, he was not available at work or at his home to answer questions about a civil suit filed by Mary Anne Tolbert.

Tolbert is a former captain of the Sheriff's Department. Tolbert admits in 2005 and 2006 she did have an off-and-on relationship with Underwood. In 2013, she was captain over the jail and in charge of Animal Control. She claims from February 2013 to October 2013 her boss intentionally battered her, touching her harmfully and offensively on various parts of her body and coercing her to unwillingly have sex with him.

Tolbert's accusations do not list the dates and times she was sexually harassed or coerced to have sex. But she states through the lawsuit that Underwood put her in situations where she was alone with him in patrol cars and then taken to several homes, including his to have sex. Tolbert said she could not fight him off because she feared she would upset him.

She claims he also increased her work load. She says the stress placed a physical toll on her, forcing her to go on medical leave. When she came back, she refused to be alone with Underwood. She said he would only talk to her in front of people and was critical of her work performance.

Tolbert's lawsuit states Underwood's actions were retaliatory.  The Sheriff's office released a statement Monday night saying the allegations are completely false and that Underwood looks forward to vigorously defending them through trial, if necessary.

The court clerk says a trial won't be scheduled for another 12 months.

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