- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson says a special committee will examine reports of harassment within the state Department of Corrections.

Richardson announced Wednesday that Republican Rep. Jim Hansen of Pike County will lead the investigation.

The problems came to light when the alternative weekly The Pitch in Kansas City reported on harassment and discrimination claims by prison employees. Some employees claimed they were retaliated against when they reported problems. The newspaper reported that between 2012 and 2016 the state paid more than $7.5 million in settlements and judgments to those who complained of harassment or discrimination.

Richardson said in a statement that the harassment found in the department can’t be tolerated.

Hansen already has talked with some corrections employees and plans to meet with new department director Anne Precythe.

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