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Collin County DA holds press conference on lawsuit

by | Nov 16, 2022 | Latest

This story was updated with more information, including from an exit interview transcript with Fallon LaFleur Friday, Nov. 18.

Collin County Criminal District Attorney Greg Willis struck a defiant tone in his response to an Oct. 31 lawsuit that alleges he sexually harassed employees.

In his Wednesday, Nov. 16, news conference in the jury room at the Collin County Courthouse, Willis denied the claims made by current and former employees in the 75-page lawsuit.

“These accusations are false,” Willis said. “The things they allege simply did not happen. The truth is that the citizens of Collin County deserve better.”

The suit also names First Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirskye, County Judge Chris Hill and County Commissioners Darrell Hale, Susan Fletcher, Cheryl Williams and Duncan Webb as defendants.

The lawsuit was filed last month by Chief Investigator Kim Pickrell, Deputy Chief Investigator Keith Henslee, former prosecutor Fallon LaFleur, prosecutor Vykim Le, former receptionist Jane Doe 1, and former communications director Jane Doe 2.

The plaintiffs also filed complaints with the Texas Workforce Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, seeking unspecified damages, according to the lawsuit.

None of the other defendants spoke during the news conference and only Hill has addressed the comments in a letter he sent out Nov. 2.

“Before the federal lawsuit was filed, the Commissioners Court was already scheduled to hear the findings of this independent investigation at our upcoming executive session on Nov. 14.” the statement said. “At all points in the process, the Commissioners Court – through our Human Resources team – has been actively engaged.”

Hill also reminded the public in his statement that the lawsuit raises allegations and is not evidence in a courtroom.

The lawsuit alleges that anonymous letters about the work environment in the district attorney’s office were first sent in 2019. 

“I can’t imagine what would motivate someone to file false, copycat allegations in court,” Willis said. “Perhaps they are seeking a financial windfall, perhaps they just want to keep their jobs, perhaps this politically motivated lawsuit serves both purposes. Only the plaintiffs know why they would make false allegations and try to ruin my family’s good reputation along with the good reputations of all the other families as well.”

Greg Willis in his Nov. 16 news conference

According to the lawsuit, “Defendant Willis’ created a highly toxic workplace by targeting female employees to try to flirt with or to direct outright sexual advances,” the lawsuit said. “He marginalized those who declined, which forced many of them to leave their positions, a pattern that substantially contributed to a conspicuously high turnover rate.”

It also alleges that Wirskye told female prosecutors to “get wet and stay wet” in workplace training sessions and shared his motto of “hook up, not down” for how prosecutors should make connections at conferences. 

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Wirskye’s office is run like “a crass, misogynistic fraternity complete with systemic hazing of the county’s attorneys, investigators and staff.”

In reports by the county’s human resources department, there was a perception that Willis was “untouchable” and that “the power and authority wielded by the district attorney is formidable.”

Greg Willis showed handwritten notes from plaintiffs in the lawsuit against him, Wirskye, Hill and the Collin County Commissioner’s Court.

It is also alleged that Willis repeatedly gave female employees unwelcome “full frontal body hugs while pressing their breasts into his chest, rubbing their lower backs with his hands and moaning.”

During his news conference, Willis played the audio recording of one such encounter with Fallon LaFleur, one of the plaintiffs. In the clip from LaFleur’s 2021 exit interview, LaFleur asks permission to hug Willis, which he consented to.

He also claims the audio proves he did not moan or make any noise during this encounter.

“What she said in this lawsuit did not happen,” Willis said. “It is a lie; it is false and now everyone can see how false, defamatory and outrageous these claims are.”

He added that the evidence he provided should be enough to question allegations made in the lawsuit.

However, Willis only played an 11 second clip of the 20-minute exit interview and did not address the more than 19 minutes of other audio that is on his collincountytruthfiles.com website.

In the full audio clip, LaFleur raises concerns to Willis about being mistreated by Wirskye. The lawsuit alleges “Wirskye came into her office and yelled ‘I can’t sit in here. You look like a whore in a whorehouse.’” He eventually complained to Le and other employees about the plush chairs and directed LeFleur to remove them, which she did.

Because of a pattern of emotional and psychological abuse LeFleur endured from Wirskye, the lawsuit alleges that she attempted suicide.

“I’ve personally been called a whore in a whorehouse,” LaFleur said in the exit interview transcript. “And just the way we’re spoken to, it’s just really not respectful or kind.”

LaFleur continued in the exit interview saying, “there are many examples and not just from me,” and “I think everyone’s afraid to say anything.”

According to the lawsuit, LaFleur was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the district attorney’s office in 2021 after working there since 2019.

Another one of the plaintiffs, Jane Doe 1, alleged Willis “made unwanted comments about Jane Doe 1’s appearance” and “gave full frontal hugs while moaning.”

At a Texas County and District Attorney’s Office Conference in Galveston, Willis allegedly invited Jane Doe 1 up to his hotel room multiple times, which Jane Doe 1 refused.

During the news conference, Willis shared hand-written notes to him from three of the plaintiffs: LaFleur, VyKim Le and Jane Doe 1.

Willis said the notes, which were “unrequested and unsolicited” paint a contrary picture to what is alleged by the three women in the lawsuit.

In one of the notes, Le thanks Willis “for being wonderful and such a patient boss.” Other notes from Le and Jane Doe 1 struck a similarly flattering tone of Willis.

Greg Willis showed examples of notes Jane Doe 1 wrote him in defense of the allegations of sexual harassment against him. Pictured, one of the notes says “I love my job.”

“As you can see, the truth and factually recorded evidence show that the Plaintiff LaFleur lied in her lawsuit,” Willis said. “Next, the truth and factual written evidence shows that the Plaintiff Le hitched her wagon to Plaintiff LaFleur with the same lies. Finally, the truth and factual written evidence I have provided today shows that Jane Doe 1 is telling a completely different story in the lawsuit than in her own words at the time.”

Willis did not offer any evidence or response to claims made by Henslee or Pickrell in the suit. According to the lawsuit, Pickrell alleges she was subjected to “unwanted sexual advances” and “routine and unwelcome efforts” to flirt with her.

He also called on the plaintiffs to “stop wasting taxpayer money” and said that “my wife and I deserve an apology.”

“I can’t imagine what would motivate someone to file false, copycat allegations in court,” Willis said. “Perhaps they are seeking a financial windfall, perhaps they just want to keep their jobs, perhaps this politically motivated lawsuit serves both purposes. Only the plaintiffs know why they would make false allegations and try to ruin my family’s good reputation along with the good reputations of all the other families as well.”

Willis’ attorney, Rogge Dunn, also released a statement echoing the sentiments of his client.

“Today, District Attorney Willis revealed only a small sampling of the compelling mountain of evidence proving the plaintiffs’ claims are false and completely trumped up. In 35 years of handling employment lawsuits this is one of the most frivolous lawsuits I’ve ever seen.”

Willis and Cheryl Williams were re-elected after running unopposed in the November election. Webb also won another term after defeating Democratic challenger Jeffrey Williams.

As part of his evidence, he has released a website with handwritten notes from Le and Jane Doe 1, a letter of support from female judges and attorneys in his office and the full 20-minute exit interview with LaFleur. It can be accessed by visiting collincountytruthfiles.com.       

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