- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The director of Mississippi’s Office of Homeland Security, Rusty Barnes, has retired months after an employee said in a lawsuit that Barnes wouldn’t promote her because she’s a woman.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain told The Associated Press on Thursday that Barnes retired after more than 25 years with the department. Homeland Security is a part of DPS.

“To my knowledge, the lawsuit settled back in April had nothing do with his departure from the agency,” Strain said.

Contact information for Barnes could not immediately be found Thursday.

Federal court records don’t show details of the settlement DPS reached with Penny Nichols Corn. Her lawsuit, filed in 2015, said Corn started work at the Office of Homeland Security in September 2007 applied to become deputy director in 2014. The suit said Barnes told her he wouldn’t consider her for the promotion because “the men in the field would not respect” her.

“When Plaintiff asked him why, he said, because she was a woman,” the lawsuit said.

Barnes, a Highway Patrol major, was appointed to lead the Office of Homeland Security in May 2013. He had been central region commander of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the statewide coordinator of emergency operations. Earlier in his career, he had worked on the security detail for then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat who served one term before losing a re-election bid in 2003.

Barnes is the second DPS official to step down in recent days.

Mike Perkins, deputy director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, retired Aug. 4. MBN Director Sam Owens has not said whether Perkins’ retirement is connected to the bureau’s settlement in June of a lawsuit brought by employee Mary Katherine Sullivan. The suit said Perkins and others sexually harassed Sullivan, creating a hostile work environment. Owens said U.S. Magistrate Judge John Roper ordered parties to keep the settlement confidential.

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