MARSHFIELD — Testimony began Wednesday morning in the case of a Texas County court clerk who is suing the Texas County prosecutor alleging he abused his office in an attempt to keep her and another county employee quiet.
The case, which moved to Webster County on a change of venue, has been surrounded by publicity since its inception. Hearing the case is Howell County Judge Don M. Henry.
In the lawsuit, Mildred S. Williams states that Michael R. Anderson’s improper or wrongful motives included illegal retaliation against her for witnessing his sexual harrassment of Monica Daniels Hutcheson.
Williams alleges he then attempted to keep her from testifying by intimidation or coercion.
Anderson was called to the stand at about 11 a.m. He appeared somewhat stressed and had a hard time remembering dates and facts while being questioned by Williams’ attorney David Steelman but was relaxed and precise during questioning by his attorney Warren Harris.
During the questioning, Steelman asked, “You say you’re hurt by the alleged statements by Williams and Hutchison…but can you image how Mildred Williams felt about what you said about her?”
Steelman was referring to incidents that occurred in late 2005 and early 2006. Anderson sued Williams and Hutchison alleging they engaged in a smear campaign against him and used their positions to “do favors” for friends while they were also involved in a swinger-type sex ring out of the courthouse. Anderson dropped the lawsuit several weeks later.
No formal investigation was ever done in late 2005 by the county sheriff’s department following a meeting with Associate Circuit Judge Brad Ellsworth. The only report ever generated was paperwork requested by Anderson after he claimed he had been drugged while at a bar in late 2005.
Lt. Melissa Dunn of the Texas County Sheriff’s Department testified that records related to the alleged drugging disappeared from her office. She salvaged one report that had been preserved on her computer’s hard drive which was admitted into evidence.
Anderson was later notified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Hutchison had filed a sexual harrassment complaint against him, which was later settled out of court and sealed by the judge. That was when he found out that Williams was a witness to his alleged harassment of Hutchison.
Steelman noted to the court that until that time, Anderson had not spoken with or paid any attention to Williams.
“We’re not talking about the Monica Daniels (Hutchison) case anymore…We’re talking about Mildred Williams,” said Steelman. “Don’t you owe it to Mildred Williams if you’re investigating her to at least talk to her about it?”
When Steelman repeated his question, Anderson said, “I don’t think I owed it to Mildred Williams.”
Steelman then asked if it wasn’t a bit irregular for the prosecutor to investigate a crime in which he is involved — the word “crime” meaning the women were talking about Anderson behind his back. It was what Anderson called his action against the two women.
He explained, a civil charge is usually called a petition; Anderson titled his lawsuit against the women a “complaint,” which usually designates a criminal charge.
“Why did you pick the words ‘sex-ring,’? Steelman asked.
‘I don’t know how else to describe it,” was the answer.
When asked by Harris why he filed the 2006 lawsuit against the woman, Anderson replied that Ellsworth had told him he could no longer come into his office because Williams (an employee in the judge’s office) did not want him there.
“I’m the only lawyer in the state of Missouri that can’t go into the Texas County Courthouse,” Anderson said.
Harris was to continue questioning Anderson when court resumed this morning.
Testimony was also heard from Sgt. Jeffrey Kinder and Tpr. Terry Nelson, both of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Testimony is expected today and Friday from Ellsworth and several other people from Texas County.
In the case, filed July 10, 2009, Williams is seeking payment of compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering, embarrassment, humilation, mental anguish, costs and expenses incurred to defend herself.
Nearly all testimony Wednesday involved the previous two cases. As the three lawsuits are closely entwined, each with several sub plots, attorneys tried to establish time lines as well as who was involved in each instance. Conflicting testimony muddied the waters further.
The story was updated on Sept. 16, 2011, to better reflect the county sheriff’s department never conducted a formal inquiry into matters related to the case.