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October 22, 2018

10/11/2018 3:31:00 PM
County Board denies legal services to beleaguered ex-sheriff

The Chisago County Board voted unanimously October 3 to deny a request for the defense and indemnification of former Sheriff Rick Duncan  The ex-sheriff is facing a civil lawsuit,  filed by a former crime analyst he supervised as sheriff.  (See Press stories May 1 and June 28)

Duncan abruptly notified the county of his retirement in May 2018.

He won election and began as sheriff in 2011.  Just weeks before he retired, the county Human Resources director advised him that a complaint was filed.  An independent investigation contracted from a legal firm, made contact with Duncan and his lawyer in the course of putting together a timeline and report on the employee’s allegations.  

It was this report that provided the basis for the county commissioners denying the defense and indemnification.

Ordinarily if a county employee or elected official is sued for actions while performing legitimate duties of the county job, the county would provide legal services and cover any fine or resulting monetary penalty.  The county commissioners can decline to provide these if the County Board holds a hearing and determines the actions constituted malfeasance and were outside the scope of what’s necessary for the job.  Duncan and his lawyer Marshall Tanick were advised of the hearing last week but did not attend.

The next court session for the civil lawsuit is scheduled November 28 on motions before Magistrate Hildy Bowbeer.  
The Press has been following the on-going review of potential criminal charges as well.

The initial report commissioned by the county was sent to the Anoka County Attorney in early summer, to avoid any conflicts for further review by investigators and prosecutors.  Anoka law enforcement also conducted its own investigation. The Anoka County attorney spokesperson reports the county attorney staff have the file and are reviewing charges.

County Commissioner Mike Robinson also informed the county attorney last week that he is personal friends with the former crime analyst and her  husband.  He asked if he should abstain; on advice from the county attorney he voted with the majority.  

County Attorney Janet Reiter advised it’s up to Robinson to abstain or not,  but conflict of interest is usually predicated on a “financial aspect” and not just a relationship.

As background
The report includes electronic correspondence where Duncan  clearly declares he originated the “anonymous” e mails that set in motion a weird, months long  employee harassments situation.  The employee feared for herself and her family, based on the “instructions” in the e mails. The sexual connotations of what she was ordered to do (spend the night in a motel with the sheriff during a law enforcement conference, for example) were unmistakable.



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