10/30/2020 2:41:00 PM Former sheriff plea entered, sentencing in December
Former Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan entered a plea last week in Anoka County court as part of a plea agreement that almost brings to an end, a three year episode that began in 2017 with the sheriff sending harassing messages to a crime analyst in his department. Sentencing is scheduled for December.
In March of 2018 the Chisago County Human Resources Director received a complaint from a female employee that she believed the county sheriff was engaged in harassing behavior, creating a hostile work environment. The distraught staffer reported she’d been receiving weird written instructions, anonymously but signed “Control Freak.” For example, she was told to attend an out of town conference and book a room with one bed, and must stay overnight with the sheriff. Subsequent instructions included the possibility of dire consequences to the employee’s family if she told anybody about the harassment or if she failed to follow through. The messages also suggested that the sheriff was a victim of “Control Freak’s” coercion as well. An independent private law firm launched an investigation for the county, and the investigator got confirmation that Sheriff Duncan had sent the messages.
May 4, 2018 Duncan resigned.
Criminal charges were filed and the case was shifted to Anoka County to avoid any conflict of interest. The employee also filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court claiming Duncan inflicted emotional distress, her rights were violated by sexually harassing the employee.
Over the past two years Duncan’s defense has attempted to get the misconduct charge dismissed, stating it did not go through a grand jury process. There was an unsuccessful effort to get the judge removed because she is married to an Anoka County Attorney’s office employee, and a host of other legal delays.
The former sheriff entered a guilty plea last week to harassment and misconduct by an elected official; and in the plea agreement the more serious charge of making violent threats is to be dropped when sentencing takes place in December.