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More Cumberland Sheriff's Employees Complain of Harassment

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FAYETTEVILLE — There are more allegations of harassment at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, only a week after two employees were fired for the same reason.

Sheriff Moose Butler fired Maj. Ray Davis and Deborah Koenig, an attorney with the Sheriff's Office, last month after allegations of sexual harassment.

Koenig joined Deputy Dawn Hamerla and Lt. Deborah Crain, both of the Sheriff's Office, as they made more accusations of harassment and favoritism Tuesday.

"The sheriff himself has made comments at the scene of serious incidents to the effect of 'What are women doing here?'" said Crain.

Butler says the allegations against him are false.

"I won't even respond to it," he said. "That's not a true statement."

The three women say they represent at least 10 others who are afraid to come forward. They are calling for an end to what they see as discrimination and favoritism in the office.

"We have a person who brought forward evidence of offensive and illegal activity," said Travis Payne, the women's attorney. "She's treated like a criminal, while the perpetrator is treated like a long-lost friend."

Butler fired Koenig shortly after she filed a sexual harassment complaint. He says she did not do her job and did not inform him of the concerns of female employees. Koenig says she informed everyone from the Internal Affairs Department to the chief deputy.

Her firing has the other women concerned. They say they have been the subjects of intimidation and retaliation since the accusations against Davis were first made.

"If you persist in bringing up information that is not favorable to the department or, more particularly, certain employees of the Sheriff's Office, you could end up like [Koenig] -- without a job," Hamerla said.

Butler says the women's concerns are unfounded.

"I've made it clear before, and I'll say it again today. No one's job is at stake or in jeopardy at all in regards to this investigation," he said.

Koenig says she wants her job back, but Butler announced that he has already hired her replacement. Four complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are still pending.

Butler also announced that new policies are going into effect, and all employees will be required to attend a workplace-relations seminar.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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