ALBANY (CN) – A longtime sheriff’s employee claims Albany County Undersheriff John Mahan harassed, assaulted and stalked her – “including obtaining the access code to (her) answering machine and listening to her personal and private messages” – and when she complained, the Sheriff did not discipline Mahan, but transferred her and cut her pay, and Mahan asked an officer at her new post to “make her life a living hell,” and the officer did so.
Sherree Sebast sued Undersheriff John Mahan, Albany County Sheriff James Campbell, and Leonard Crouch, an officer at the station to which she was transferred.
According to her federal complaint: “In that year (2005) defendant Mahan began treating plaintiff in a discriminatory and harassing fashion and began stalking and threatening plaintiff, including (but not limited to): surreptitiously obtaining the access code to plaintiff’s answering machine and listening to her personal and private messages; repeatedly, and for no reason other than to make plaintiff believe he was going to cause her injury or death, drive by plaintiff’s home and make himself known; repeatedly make derogatory sexual comments about plaintiff to her co-workers and friends; and generally humiliate and ridicule plaintiff.”
She claims Mahan assaulted and injured her at the 2005 Christmas party.
The complaint continues: “In mid-January 2006 plaintiff went to defendant (Sheriff) Campbell and advised him of the actions of defendant Mahan, including the fact that he had assaulted her, that he was stalking her, and that she feared for her safety and well-being.
“In so doing, plaintiff was speaking on a matter of public concern: specifically, that an employee of the sheriff’s department was engaging in criminal and unconstitutional behavior.
“As a direct consequence of plaintiff’s statements to Sheriff Campbell concerning defendant Mahan, on February 6, 2006 plaintiff was transferred, over her objection, from her station at the Albany County Courthouse, to a less desirable location in Cohoes New York.
“As a direct consequence of plaintiff’s statements to Sheriff Campbell concerning defendant Mahan, commencing February 6, 2006 plaintiff was assigned less desirable “Upon information and belief, no investigation of the complaints plaintiff made concerning defendant Mahan was ever undertaken by, on behalf of, or at the request of Sheriff Campbell or Albany County, New York.
“Upon information and belief, defendant Mahan was not disciplined or sanctioned in any fashion as a result of the complaints plaintiff made to Sheriff Campbell concerning defendant Mahan.
“Shortly after plaintiff was transferred to Cohoes, defendant Mahan and defendant Crouch had a conversation discussing plaintiff. During this conversation, defendant Mahan directed defendant Crouch to treat plaintiff in such a way as to induce her to resign from her employment, and to generally ‘make her life a living hell.’
“Defendant Crouch agreed to do so, and in furtherance of this agreement, in an attempt to compel plaintiff to resign, began mistreating plaintiff, including belittling her, intentionally humiliating plaintiff in front of her co-workers, arbitrarily revising plaintiff’s duties and repeatedly screaming at plaintiff. Defendant’s actions in the attempt to compel plaintiff to resign have been so severe as to cause plaintiff to suffer physical and emotional trauma. …
“Plaintiff advised defendant Campbell of the actions of defendant Crouch, however, defendant Campbell failed and refused to discipline Crouch or in any way address the actions.
“On or about January 1, 2009, plaintiff’s hourly wage was reduced by approximately 17%, constituting a de facto demotion of plaintiff. To plaintiff’s knowledge, no other employee of Albany County has suffered such a pay reduction.”
She demands punitive damages. She is represented by Keith Schockmel.