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We're having trouble buying Portage County Sheriff David Doak's explanations for why alleged sexual harassment by one of his top managers continued unabated for years.
Presuming his department's own report is accurate, it's hard to comprehend how Doak or other supervisors weren't aware of the harassing behavior of former Maj. Dennis Missimi, who Doak stunningly allowed to resign before he could be fired.
And if managers were aware, they failed the two alleged victims, their employees and taxpayers by failing to do what's right, not to mention potentially exposing the county to liability for tolerating sexual harassment. The facts point to a potential problem with more than one leader.
As we reported last month, Chief Detective Lt. Gregory Johnson's investigation revealed "a workplace where staff members knew of Missimi's alleged history as far back as 1996" with another employer.
The report stated two women claimed Missimi routinely made "lewd and sexually suggestive" comments and even stalked them. One became the subject of a department-wide rumor, with other administrative staff allegedly stating "(Missimi is) going to like her," and that she was "his type" based on her application photo.
Note the allegation against administrative staff, not just Missimi, there.
"Why is it everyone knew about his past, but I was not made aware," one victim wrote in an investigation statement. "At this point, it's a joke and just tossed up with an explanation that it's 'Dennis being Dennis.'"
Anyone who has attended a sexual harassment prevention training session -- especially for managers -- can quickly tell you these internal findings could create a pile of legal problems for Doak and Portage County.
Managers have an important duty to not only ensure they create an environment free of any harassment, but to professionally address any issues which do arise as quickly, fairly and compassionately as possible. They're expected to monitor the workplace and proactively respond to any issues, not just wait for complaints.
Not only is there a legal mandate to prevent or stop harassment, it's the right thing to do to ensure employees can do their jobs in an environment free from any hostile behavior.
We also were surprised to learn Doak -- and many other county and local municipal offices -- don't conduct any type of annual harassment prevention training. With online training now readily available, it would be wise for Doak and other county officials to develop a plan for training all new employees and creating a regular schedule of updates for others. Signing a policy manual doesn't cut it.
There's also a surprising lack of human resources professionals in county government, with each elected official running their department as they see fit for better or worse. For example, the county commissioners have oversight over about 25 percent of 1,277 county employees. Elected officials such as Doak only answer to voters, who just re-elected him last year to a third term.
We also believe Doak would be wise to hire an outside consultant to review all operations at the sheriff's office to ensure there are no additional discriminatory practices ongoing. We need more assurances that Doak's employees know about the department's policies and their duties to ensure they're followed.
The only thing worse than one saga like this would be a second.