A troubled Kentucky court official admitted to acting unprofessional in a confrontation with another judicial-center employee, but denied touching the employee in an unwanted way.
Joseph “JS” Flynn, the elected circuit clerk in Pulaski County, also denied a former employee’s claim that he sexually assaulted her.
Flynn said of the woman, “She has a real problem with lying.”
Flynn faces charges that include creating a hostile work environment, harassment and failing to perform his duties with courtesy and respect.
The Kentucky attorney general’s office presented evidence against him this week to former Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue, who will recommend Flynn’s removal from office.
Aaron Siletto and Mark Manley, who are prosecuting the case, said only one circuit clerk was removed from office through the process in Kentucky about 30 years ago.
Flynn has been on paid leave through the end of March 2022 following the escalation of the case.
Some current and former employees of Flynn’s office testified this week that he engaged in expressed anger towards the employees and damned; touched employees inappropriately; and sometimes made sexual comments in the workplace about female customers.
A former employee said Flynn ran his hand under her dress and touched her buttocks in the Justice-Center office.
She also said that on another occasion, Flynn pulled her from the front seat of the Chevrolet Tahoe to the back seat, then pushed up her shirt, kissed her chest, and exposed himself and allowed her to touch him. Tried to force
Another employee was driving the car. Flynn only let her go when the employee driving the car yelled at her, the woman testified.
The Herald-Leader is not identifying the woman who said she was the victim of assault because the paper does not identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.
Flynn testified in his own defense on Thursday and Friday, categorically denying that he had put his hand under the employee’s dress.
Ashley Haste, assistant specialist for district judges, and Junior Fortenberry, security officer at the Pulaski County Judicial Center, confirmed they witnessed the incident.
Flynn said Haste lied because he is friends with the other woman, and said he and Fortenberry had a personal disagreement, which is why the security officer falsely supported the woman’s story.
Hust and Fortenberry said they were telling the truth in their testimony.
With regard to the alleged assault in the vehicle, Flynn adamantly denied that it had happened.
Flynn, 35, said he had metal rods inserted into his back as a teenager to correct a condition called scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.
Flynn said that as a result he had to be careful how much weight he carried and was not physically able to pull the woman from the front seat to the back seat of the SUV.
“There’s no way I can do that,” he said.
The woman driving the SUV said she did not see what was happening as she was driving, but heard another employee tell Flynn to stop, which corroborates that part of her story.
But Flynn and other employees in the clerk’s office argued that the woman who made the allegations manipulated other women to back her story.
Flynn said that whoever said he overheard him talking about his sex life in the office was lying.
He did not deny touching employees’ hair or shoulders, but said no one objected, and admitted pinching employees, but said it was a prank in which people in the office participated.
Some employees of the office testified that they did not witness Flynn’s inappropriate conduct; He did a good job as a clerk and cared about serving the public; And they believe he should be reinstated in office.
“JS did a helluva job in his office,” said deputy clerk Misty Cundiff.
On March 22, 2022, the state Administrative Office of the Courts received complaints about Flynn following an incident in Flynn’s office.
Flynn admitted that he lost his temper after hurriedly coming into his office to pick up a file and opened the door to a room where he was in a closed-door meeting.
Flynn said she hurriedly said he’d get the file for her later, but after she opened the door again he got mad and made comments about her always being behind closed doors and about her not running the judicial center. Did.
Flynn screamed and cursed, hastily saying “Get the f–k out of my office.”
Flynn said Haste and an employee in his office – who had made allegations about sexual harassment – provoked him by interrupting the meeting, but he should not have lost his temper.
“I should have controlled myself better,” he said. “What I did was unprofessional.”
Jason Nemes, who represented Flynn along with former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Joe Lambert, argued to Logue that it would not be appropriate to remove Flynn from office based on the evidence presented against him.
Nemes argued that a suspension of Flynn, along with required anger management training, would be an appropriate way to deal with his outburst towards Hust, which he deeply regrets.
Ciletto responded by saying that he believed the Attorney General’s office had presented sufficient cause to oust Flynn.
In regards to the claims of people lying about Flynn, Ciletto said that the credibility of witnesses for the log would be an issue.
Both sides will now have a month to submit written arguments to Logue, who will then conclude and recommend to the Supreme Court whether Flynn should be removed.
It may be mid-July before that happens.