- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk explained Tuesday that she missed the last three weeks of work to deal with a bout of depression and will not return to the office for another month.

In response to growing questions about her initially unexplained absence and abilities to perform her duties, Hawk released a statement through a spokesman explaining she had “taken a break from work in an attempt to work through a serious episode of depression.”

She said she had intended to return to work this week but “have been unable to do so.” She says an additional four-week absence “would be in my best interest and the best interest of the DA’s office” to “give this illness the professional attention it deserves.”

The additional four weeks is considered unpaid leave. It wasn’t immediately clear whether she was paid for the previous three weeks.

She said she is leaving Messina Madson, her first assistant, in charge during her absence.

“I want and fully expect to be able to resume my duties as district attorney once I’ve recovered from this illness. The extra time I am requesting is simply in an effort to assure that I’m healthy and to give me the opportunity to make changes so this does not happen in the future,” she said in the statement.

Hawk’s previously unexplained absence had generated numerous questions about the management of her office and her ability to perform her duties. One of the attorneys on her staff had said he left his letter of resignation on her desk Aug. 6, and it remained on her desk two weeks later.

Hawk has previously acknowledged getting a doctor’s help in weaning herself from medication for back pain in 2013. Also, she fired one top assistant and another resigned three months after Hawk took office. They complained that Hawk had created a toxic atmosphere of suspicion in the district attorney’s office.

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