- Associated Press - Friday, December 8, 2017

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) - The chief probation officer for a northeastern Indiana county is suing a county judge, alleging that he subjected her to “a campaign of sex-based harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.”

Heather Malone’s lawsuit filed Thursday alleges Huntington County Circuit Judge Thomas Hakes sent her dozens of unwanted online messages and emails, tracked her activity on social media and continued sending her messages even after she asked Hakes, her superior, to stop.

Malone also alleges that Hakes would drive by her home and wait for her to arrive at the county courthouse in Huntington so he could accompany her inside.

Her suit contends that Hakes reacted negatively after learning that she had begun dating someone and suggests he retaliated by recommending she be denied a pay raise. It also alleges he told others to circumvent her at the courthouse, creating a “hostile and oppressive” workplace.

She’s seeking a jury trial, a judgment against Hakes and punitive and other damages.

A member of Hakes‘ staff said Friday the judge has declined to comment on the suit at this time.

Hakes drew attention in April when he imposed suspended sentences after Huntington physician John C. Mathew pleaded guilty to charges of sexual battery involving an employee at his doctor’s office in exchange for prosecutors dropping rape charges.

Hakes‘ sentence for Mathew later spurred protesters to gather at the courthouse to express concern about what they called a light sentence.

Malone’s 40-page complaint includes copies of emails and Facebook messages the judge allegedly sent her between December 2015 and April of this year, including some inviting her over for a glass of wine.

Malone, who responded to some of Hakes‘ messages, states in her suit that she was afraid the judge would retaliate if she didn’t accept his Facebook friend requests.

In one Facebook message, Hakes allegedly told Malone he was reading a novel about a professional man who was unhappy with his wife. That message said the man ran away and fell in love with another woman - and that Malone reminded him of that fictional woman, the suit contends.

Hakes has been a Circuit Court judge for more than a decade. He told Gov. Eric Holcomb in August that he’ll retire at the end of this year, citing “personal reasons.”


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