MARSHFIELD – A plaintiff in a lawsuit testified Friday that the Texas County prosecutor engaged in a pattern of intimidation to cover his behavior that affected her and colleagues in county government.
Mildred S. Williams states in her lawsuit filed in July 2009 that Prosecutor Michael R. Anderson retaliated against her after she witnessed his sexual harassment of another county employee. She claims Anderson attempted to keep her from testifying against him by intimidation or coercion.
Williams, a court clerk, took the stand and at times became emotional as she testified of incidents that she said defamed her and caused her emotional pain followed by costs she incurred to defend herself.
It was the third day of testimony in the case, which is expected to go to a jury sometime next week.
“(The lawsuit) will follow me forever wherever I go,” said Williams, who is a court clerk at the Texas County Justice Center. “When people realize who I am – the sex ring woman – I sign everything… They can pretty much figure it out.”
She said it all began when she and Monica Daniels Hutchison, a former prosecuting attorney office worker, were sued by Anderson in May 2006. The county prosecutor alleged the women had 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.
Hutchison then filed a suit against Anderson and Texas County government in January 2009 alleging many of the same charges contained in Williams’ lawsuit. That matter was settled out of court after the county was dismissed as a plaintiff. The outcome was sealed from the public’s view by a federal judge.
Anderson became aware that Williams had witnessed an incident in the wee hours of the morning Dec. 18, 2005, at the Hutchison residence at Licking, Williams said. Until then, Anderson had paid little or no attention to Williams, she said. Williams explained she had stayed there because she had been drinking and did not want to drive.
On the stand Williams said rumors were false that Anderson had threatened to kill her and Hutchison if they didn’t have sex with him when he came to Hutchison’s home or during any of the subsequent phone calls preserved on Hutchison’s answering machine. The exchange has not been played in court.
Williams recalled, he banged on the door and wiggled the knobs, opening the screen on one door while cursing and yelling and ran around the house.
Williams said she later learned more about the night that she said left her frightened. “He was drunk and said he was driving around with Jeff and drinking a fifth of Crown.” (Sgt. Jeff Kinder of Missouri State Highway Patrol).
“After (his) suit was dropped he kept doing things… he wouldn’t stop… it made it hard at work,” she said, adding she was worried about it being on record and what affect it would have on her now 16-year-old son.
“I tried to keep it from him but finally had to sit him down and explain to him,” Williams said. “I told him, no matter what people say, he had to stay cool…,” she said through tears.
At that point Anderson got up from the lawyer’s table and left the courtroom for about five minutes.
Houston Herald Publisher Brad Gentry testified concerning a press release issued and signed by Anderson that was sent to media outlets after his lawsuit was filed. It outlined the prosecutor’s reasons for filing his 2006 lawsuit against both women who the prosecutor said were conspiring against him.
Gentry recalled on the stand that Anderson did not seek to publicize the lawsuit. However, a newspaper employee found the record at the courthouse and the publication reported on the suit as well as a press release that was published verbatim. They also ran stories as details of the lawsuits unfolded.
“I wasn’t sure who Mildred Williams was… I left a message on her answering machine that if there was anything she wanted to talk about…” he said. “She didn’t call nor did Monica Hutchison or any of the lawyers…”
Gentry, when asked, recalled an incident in the spring where Anderson appeared at his office and complained about the publicity and was “angry, very agitated.”
Others had similar stories. Officials called to testify included Marci Mosley, circuit clerk; and Melinda Hudson, associate court clerk.
Hudson was present when Anderson called her and Williams into an empty office and shut the door.
“He was yelling at us and stepped toward Millie and said ‘As far as you’re concerned, you’re dead to me.’ “
Mosley was outside that office and could hear Anderson yelling. “When he came out he slammed his fist down on a file cabinet and said (to Williams), ‘You’d better not be talking about me, woman.'”
Hudson recalled that Anderson would come into the office and glare at Millie and make smirking faces.
She testified she had never witnessed Williams initiate conflict; she has seen Anderson initiate conflict.
Mosley testified that once Anderson sat down by her desk, took out his cell phone, aimed it at Williams and took a photo. “It made a chimpanzee or monkey sound,” she said.
Mosley or Hudson testified they had never heard Williams say a disparaging remark about Anderson, and they have no knowledge of a sex ring.
Both women testified they had noticed changes in Williams’ appearance and demeanor since Anderson’s lawsuit was filed.
Judge Doug Gaston testified that Williams is “a great worker, does good on the job… has a few issues handling things emotionally.”
Before court recessed until Monday, a video was played of the testimony of Judge Mary Sheffield.
A timeline was added and additional information included in this story on Sept. 18, 2011.
(The lawsuit) will follow me forever wherever I go,” saidWilliams, who is a court clerk at the Texas County Justice Center.”When people realize who I am – the sex ring woman – I signeverything… They can pretty much figure it out.
Dec. 1, 2005 – Michael Anderson fired Monica Daniels Hutchisonaccusing her of talking about him and preparing to file a sexualharassment suit. A week later she was persuaded to come back towork for him.
Dec. 18, 2005 – Anderson showed up at Hutchison’s home at about1:20 a.m. Apparently impaired, he banged on doors and windows andwiggled knobs while yelling and cursing.
Dec. 23, 2005 – Anderson asked Hutchison for the answeringmachine tape. She refused. After he obtained a search warrant forthe tape, she handed it over and quit that day.
May 31, 2006 – Anderson filed a civil lawsuit against Hutchisonand county employee Mildred Williams. He alleged they libeled andslandered him as well as planned to coordinate and orchestrate aswinger style sex ring out of the courthouse. The suit wasdismissed by Anderson 40 days later.
January 2009 – Hutchison filed a federal suit after gettingpermission from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. OnMarch 30, 2011, it was settled out of court and sealed by a federaljudge.
July 2009 – Williams filed her lawsuit against Anderson.