Sexual harassment lawsuit against Collin County DA settled

From last week.

Greg Willis

Collin County Commissioners unanimously agreed Monday to settle an amended lawsuit against the Collin County District Attorney’s Office by three current and three former employees of that office.

The suit accused District Attorney Greg Willis and First Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirskye of sexually harassing multiple women who work or have worked in the district attorney’s office, and of retaliating against them when they refused to comply with their sexual advances.

In a statement released by Collin County Judge Chris Hill, he also claims the lawsuit falsely claimed members of the Commissioners Court were aware of the misconduct in the office and refused to take action.

The statement goes onto say the Commissioners Court engaged an independent legal firm to investigate the allegations immediately upon learning of them. That investigator talked with more than 30 current and former employees at the DA’s office, who they say discovered numerous inconsistencies, inaccuracies and false statements in the allegations. Multiple employees also reportedly directly disputed many of the lawsuit’s allegations.

“As the female leadership in the Collin County District Attorney’s Office, we would like to issue this statement in support of District Attorney Greg Willis and First Assistant Bill Wirskye,” said 11 current female chief prosecutors in the Collin County DA’s Office. “They have cultivated an environment that empowers women and supports working mothers. We are proud to continue to seek justice alongside their leadership.”

The Commissioners Court said in the statement they ultimately concluded the allegations were unfounded and refused to settle claims of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, along with allegations against court members.

“In spite of the Court’s objections, the county’s insurance company was concerned about the potential costs of litigation and any potential judgment, and the insurer offered the six plaintiffs $1.75 million to settle the lawsuit,” the statement reads. “The six plaintiffs amended their lawsuit, retracting the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, retracting all allegations against the Court members, and retracting the allegations against the District Attorney and the First Assistant District Attorney.”

The plaintiffs alleged in an amended filing that they suffered retaliation and subsequently accepted the settlement offer.

Afterward, the three remaining employees resigned from their employment with the county, the statement added, as a condition of the settlement agreement.

See here and here for the background. Willis is a longtime Ken Paxton crony, which is what interested me in the case to begin with. There’s some information in the story about the allegations – there’s more in those links I provided above – but no response about the dismissal from the plaintiffs’ side, so all we have is the defense posturing to analyze. The original allegations were pretty shocking, but a lot of things can happen between the filings and the courtroom. I’m fascinated by the defense putting the onus on the settlement on the county’s insurance company, like “we wanted to fight this in court but those actuarial wusses held us back”. I sure wish I knew more, but this is often how it goes. KERA has more.

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