A Webster County jury began deliberating at about 11:40 a.m. in a civil case brought against Texas County Prosecutor Mike Anderson by Mildred S. Williams, a court clerk.
Deliberations began after closing statements this morning by attorneys involved in the case.
EARLIER: MARSHFIELD – A jury will deliberate before noon today after closing arguments in a controversial Texas County civil case in Webster County on a change of venue.
Howell County Judge Don M. Henry is presiding in the case between elected and employed Texas County workers.
Mildred S. Williams, a court clerk, alleges in her lawsuit that Prosecutor Michael R. Anderson retaliated against her after she witnessed his sexual harassment of another county employee Monica Daniels Hutchison. She claims Anderson attempted to keep her from testifying against him by intimidation or coercion.
Much of the testimony Monday was to establish why Anderson filed a damage complaint against Williams and Hutchison in 2006 that was dropped after 40 days. Hutchison followed with a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against Anderson in January 2009. It was settled out of court last March and sealed by a federal judge. Hutchison was not called to testify in Williams’ lawsuit.
Williams testified Friday about incidents of Anderson’s alleged harassment that resulted in her lawsuit filing in July 2009.
Called by defense attorney Warren Harris, Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson said Anderson is one of the better prosecutors he’s ever worked with.
Regarding the prosecutor’s lawsuit against the women, Watson said he knew charges of a swinger sex ring being orchestrated out of the courthouse were not true.
“If I thought someone was running a sex ring out of any office, my job is to stop it,” he said. “Anybody in any of those offices knew these allegations are not true… that’s why there was no investigation. I took Judge (Brad) Ellsworth’s word to not get involved with the case.”
Stacey Lannert of St. Louis told the jury that Anderson assisted her with an application for clemency when he was a University of Missouri law student in 2000.
“He continued to help me after he became prosecutor until I got clemency,” she said. “I’ve visited Houston and his co-workers hold him in very high esteem.”
Dianne Anderson, his wife of 38 years, said her husband puts in at least 50 hours a week, usually much more as he’s on call 24/7.
“He heard the rumors… he felt terrible,” she said.
Another allegation against Williams and Hutchison in Anderson’s dropped lawsuit involved the removal and destruction of documents.
Christina Mosley, a legal assistant in Anderson’s office, said she had observed Hutchison engaged in illegal activities but not Williams.
“After Anderson’s lawsuit against Monica and Millie, a lot of people said bad things about Monica – but not about Millie,” said Mosley. “People asked if the sex ring was true about Monica – not Millie – and we got many phone calls asking about Monica… why she quit or was fired.”
Mosley said she began to advise Anderson before Hutchison quit regarding “things” going on in the office. For example, Mosley said she witnessed Hutchison destroying reports and fixing tickets for friends.
“One case she shredded was about the death of a man in an auto accident that was being chased by police,” said Mosley, who said her desk was alongside Hutchison’s.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated the fatal crash in March 2005.
“I took a call from Danny McNew (then Licking police chief). I gave the phone to Monica who said she ‘would take care of it,’ ” Mosley said. “(Hutchison) got right up and grabbed a report out of her basket and went to the shredder and shredded that report.”
Mosley also said Hutchison told her, as she deleted documents from her computer, that she “would not leave a trail” – of which Mosley also advised Anderson.
She asked Anderson for a recorder so she could record Hutchison’s conversation so Anderson could hear what was being said about him.
Williams’ attorney David Steelman said the recordings contained nothing about criminal activity, only about the sexual thing.
“The sex thing had nothing to do with Millie,” said Mosley.
Terry Haden, a paralegal in a practicing attorney’s office in Houston, said she was friends with both women.
When asked about the sex ring charges against Williams, Haden said, “I thought it was a bunch of (crap).”
Loretté Smith, now an employee with University Extension and former sheriff’s department worker, agreed.
“I didn’t believe them. There’s more to a story than what’s in the paper,” she said.
Haden noted that in her work she often sees people who have made mistakes.
“You have to blame everyone – not just one person.”
The lawsuits are all frivolous and should never have been filed, she testified.
If I thought someone was running a sex ring out of any office,my job is to stop it,” he said. “Anybody in any of those officesknew these allegations are not true… that’s why there was noinvestigation. I took Judge (Brad) Ellsworth’s word to not getinvolved with the case.”