KEOSAUQUA, Iowa — A Van Buren County attorney is set to stand trial over accusations of sexual harassment, intoxication and retaliation against employees.
Abraham Watkins’ civil trial is scheduled to begin Thursday, according to the Hawk Eye (http://bit.ly/2ei6BCp ). The Van Buren County Board of Supervisors filed a petition in district court in Keosauqua (kee-oh-SAH’-kwuh) last month requesting that Watkins be removed from office.
The petition said Watkins has commented about a female county employee’s body, showed female employees nude photos of other women, made offensive sexual comments and appeared at work in the presence of female county employees wearing nothing below the waist except a pair of underwear.
The petition also said Watkins appeared drunk at multiple trials in which he was the prosecutor, according to a brief by the state.
Since the petition was filed, one county employee said she has faced retaliation from Watkins and his actions against her “have made it increasingly difficult to perform her employment requirements.”
“He does not get it,” the state’s brief read. “This is not a case of a temporary lapse in judgment, or even a few mistakes in judgment; it is a case of repeated deliberate sexual harassment constituting the maintenance of a hostile work environment, and therefore, removal is both justified and necessary.”
If found guilty, Watkins will be subject to removal from office by law.
Watkins remains the county’s chief legal counsel, and was elected as an Independent in 2014 to a four-year term. A message requesting comment from Watkins by The Associated Press wasn’t immediately returned.
Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com