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CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION

Calhoun sheriff accused of sexual harassment

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anderson scott 20-04-12s

Calhoun County Sheriff Scott Anderson

The Calhoun County sheriff repeatedly berated and sexually harassed some of his deputies and emergency dispatchers over the course of the past two years and invited one of them to have sex with him in his office, according to a complaint filed with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

Scott Anderson was appointed sheriff by the Calhoun County Board of Supervisors in 2017 after his longtime predecessor retired.

Later that year, Anderson began to complain to a female dispatcher who accompanied him to transport female inmates that he wanted to divorce his wife, according to the civil rights complaint made by that dispatcher. He also repeatedly complained about his lack of marital sex.

"Sheriff Anderson would tell me I could throw him a bone, insinuating I could have sex with him to alleviate some of his distress," the dispatcher, Tamara Swank, wrote in the complaint.

Anderson could not be reached to comment for this article.

The complaint — which typically is not available to the public — was filed in December and was distributed this week to reporters by Swank's attorney after Anderson was arrested for assaulting his new wife and a police officer on Saturday.

The Des Moines Register was the first to report details from the civil rights complaint. The Times Herald subsequently obtained the complaint.

An initial screening of the complaint by the commission found that Swank has a valid claim of sexual harassment. She has also claimed Anderson retaliated against her, but that claim requires more investigation, the commission decided early this month.

Swank and four others complained to the county's human resources director in September 2018 about the harassment and about how Anderson "would belittle us and constantly scream and yell at us," according to the complaint. After that, Anderson "began a witch-hunt, trying to find out who had gone to human resources so he could fire them immediately," the complaint says.

County officials decided the issues needed to be handled internally in the sheriff's office because Anderson is an elected official, the civil rights complaint says.

For Swank, the harassment culminated in February 2019 when Swank and Anderson were alone in the sheriff's office and Anderson allegedly invited her into his personal office for sex.

Swank alleges that Anderson was brooding after she told him something unspecified that she knew would upset him, and she said, "If you're gonna smack me, take off ..."

Swank said that Anderson interrupted her and said, "It's about time! Come on!" as he waved her into his office and put his hands on his belt buckle, according to the complaint.

Swank had intended to tell him to take off his watch, a reference to a running joke in the office. But Anderson continued: "Come on. I'll shut the door! Come on. Let's go!" according to the complaint.

When Swank demurred, Anderson told her she was "evil" several times, the complaint says.

Swank continued to work for months but had "tremendous stress and anxiety" and took unpaid leave in October under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Swank alleges that another woman complained to her after being fired in 2018 that her working relationship with Anderson went awry when she told Anderson "she did not want to be with him."

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