Ex-Clerk Says Judge Was a Horn Dog

     BEAUFORT, S.C. (CN) – An octogenarian judge sexually harassed his 35-year-old assistant, falsely accused her of coming on to him and threatened to fire her when she complained, the woman claims in court.
     Tiffany Poloschan sued Francis M. Simon and Beaufort County, in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas.
     Simon, who was Beaufort County’s probate judge for nearly 18 years, retired in July 2012 with two years left on his term. He announced his retirement a month after three female employees filed sexual harassment complaints against him, according to the Island Packet newspaper.
     All three women claimed that Simon, 84 when he retired, sexually harassed them with lewd, offensive comments. They said they kept quiet about it because they feared losing their jobs, according to the Island Packet.
     In her lawsuit, Poloschan claims Simon started harassing her in April 2012, after he offered her a job as a deputy clerk in the probate court.
     She says Simon interviewed her three times, and persuaded her to take the job rather than one she had been offered at a law firm.
     Poloschan claims she found Simon’s behavior odd during a fourth, informal interview, but assumed he was just a “nice old man.”
     “So, I met him at Wendy’s, we discussed the job, he mentioned the other (2) candidates, that they would be good too but he needed some time to think, he wanted to sleep on it and I agreed that was fine,” Poloschan wrote in an exhibit to her complaint. “He asked about my history in Mo. and that is where we discussed my prior marriage and that I was divorced due to age difference and he inquired how old my husband was and I told him (which he is 57 and I am 35). During our conversation, he grabbed my hand and touched an elephant ring I was wearing, asked if I was Republican, I said yes. He also told me that I had an edge on the other ladies because of my background and that I looked appetizing! Now, I found that a bit strange … but due to his age and the fact I had moved to an entirely different area, I thought maybe they were just a lot more friendly in the South than I realized. Before we left he grabbed my hand again and caressed it, versus a hand shake … again found that a bit odd as well, but given his age, I thought maybe he is just a nice old man … did not want to jump to conclusions and accuse him of anything or be rude. I received a phone call the following day offering me the job, which I accepted.” (Parentheses and ellipses in exhibit).
     Shortly after Poloschan started working for Simon, he began discussing his personal life with her, including his sexual relationships, according to the exhibit. Poloschan, who worked as a waitress at night, claims Simon offered to find her a better job, because she looked tired: “he said ‘that can’t be good for romance in the sheets.'”
     Poloschan says things got out of control on May 14, 2012, when she went to Simon’s office with information he had requested.
     According to the exhibit: “Judge Francis M. Simon came into my office on the morning of said date and asked me to find the distance in miles between Beaufort County Courthouse and Jasper County Courthouse. I completed the request as asked and took the information to his office for his review. We discussed the route details presented and he asked how my night job was going. I explained I was doing well and making pretty decent tips. He then proceeded with out of the blue conversation by saying ‘you know, I have been seeing this young woman that has this piercing in her vagina lips and I find that strange. She is a Mexican girl, about 35 and that sort of thing is unusual to me and blows my mind.’ He then proceeded to state ‘will that piercing in her vagina lips rip my dick when I am fucking her, because that really concerns me’ … at this point I was in shock that he would even discuss something of that nature with me since I am his employee and I find it extremely offensive. I stated ‘I don’t know.’ Had no idea how to respond to such a sexual and offensive comment, as I was in shock that those words even remotely crossed his mind and came out of his mouth. He asked me ‘what should I do?’ I said, ‘maybe you should date women more your age.’ He said ‘I was dating a lady in her 50s and she told me I am too big, my dick hurts her.’ He also stated that ‘I cannot wear protection when I have sex because it interferes with my performance and I am really great for my age.’ After that, I just ignored acknowledging any further response, which I assume was enough to prevent any further discussion because he then proceeded to talk about our upcoming conference in Columbia, S.C. and we discussed where we would all go for dinner. I left his office and returned to my desk and still could not believe what I had just heard him talk about and it made me feel very uncomfortable.”
     Poloschan says in the exhibit that Simon kept her in a conference room for 25 minutes that afternoon, discussing his personal life. She says she felt he was coming on to her, and she did not reciprocate.
     Poloschan claims that when she went home that night she was disgusted and sick to her stomach and vomited.
     Poloschan called in sick the following day, still not feeling well, she says.
     She says in the exhibit that after assistant Probate Judge Kenneth Fulp found out about Simon’s behavior, Simon called her at home to apologize, saying the conversation had “got out of control,” and asking if he had “anything to worry about.”
     When she returned to work, Poloschan claims, she found that Simon had told her co-workers that she had initiated the inappropriate conversation. In a meeting with another man present, Poloschan says in the exhibit, Simon asked her “‘(A)re you going to cut me any slack on this[?]’ and I told him ‘I am very upset because you pulled the entire staff in on May 16, 2012 and advised each one of them that inappropriate conversation did take place but that I initiated it. I said that is inaccurate and false and I do not appreciate you telling fellow co-workers inaccurate and character demeaning information about me.'”
     After quarreling about who started the conversation, Poloschan says, “It said ‘ I will not let this go and I want the incident documented.’ He stated ‘that means you want to file a complaint?’ I told him ‘yes.’ At this point he said ‘well, I felt you were coming on to me because you had green toenails and you asked me to touch them’ I said ‘I did not’ (for the record, they are blue and have been for 4 weeks.”
     Uneasy with the way the meeting was going, Poloschan says, she called another woman into the room as a witness. Then Poloschan and Simon argued about what would happen if she filed a formal protest, and they had to go to a hearing.
     “He said ‘you hate me that much and want to ruin me that bad huh?'” the exhibit states. “I said, ‘No, it’s not a matter of hate or ruining you, what you did was wrong and offensive.’ Then he said, ‘well, there have been incidents where you told me you liked older men, I felt that was a come on.’ I explained ‘I did not … that during my interview process (at Wendy’s in Bluffton, S.C.) when you were asking about my life in Mo. and history I explained I was previously married and due to the age difference, I was getting divorced and elected to move to South Carolina where my boyfriend lives.’ He assumed I like older men because I was married to someone much older than myself. I told him and I quote ‘have you looked in the mirror lately, that I have a drop-dead gorgeous boyfriend that I moved over 1,000 miles to be with, why would I ever pursue you or come on to you?’ I told him that ‘your behavior has brought this on and it was self-inflicted on your part.'” (Parentheses, ellipses and punctuation as in exhibit).
     Poloschan claims that Simon told her she should resign, and that when she refused, he told her, “I have the power to do whatever I want. I can fire and hire at will, period.”
     Poloschan claims the county was aware of Simon’s pattern of sexual harassment, but failed to act.
     She seeks compensatory and punitive damages for sexual harassment, breach of contract, emotional distress, defamation, outrage and negligence.
     According to the complaint, she was constructively fired, but the complaint skips from “First Cause of Action (Sexual Harassment)” to “Third Cause of Action (Breach of Contract),” without describing a second cause of action.
     Poloschan is represented by Fred Kuhn Jr. with Moss, Kuhn & Fleming.
     After Simon resigned in July 2012, Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Fulp to serve as the county’s probate judge until Simon’s term ends in December 2014.
     Fulp told the local newspaper that he was aware of the May 14, 2012 incident and had spoken with county Employee Services officials about it, but would not comment further.
     “I can say I won’t tolerate harassment of any kind,” Fulp said, according to the Island Packet.

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