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CENTREVILLE, Md. - The sheriff of Queen Anne's County is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by one of his former deputies, who claims she was assaulted, harassed and tortured by another deputy under his watch. Court records show the alleged harasser is the sheriff's brother.
Sheriff Gary Hofmann hosts an internet show dedicated to tracking Queen Anne's County's most wanted, but at the moment, Hofmann is the one people are looking for as lawyers tell us they want to serve him with a federal lawsuit brought by one of his former officers.
Federal court records show Kristy Murphy-Taylor, 35, of Queenstown, is suing the Sheriff, his brother, the Queen Anne's County Office of the Sheriff, a major within the department and the state of Maryland, claiming she was harassed and eventually fired in May of 2011. Murphy-Taylor, a former detective, alleges she was terminated after reporting an assault at the hands of John Hofmann, Gary's brother, and a corporal within the department.
The lawsuit filing says Murphy-Taylor was riding with John Hofmann in Cecil County in 2009 when he, "while still operating the motor vehicle, reached over with his right hand and forcefully put it down the front of Ms. Murphy-Taylor's pants, touching her vaginal area". The suit also claims Hofmann grabbed Murphy-Taylor's breasts despite her attempts to stop him. Murphy-Taylor says she "told Mr. Hofmann to stop and tried to push his hand away each time he forced himself on her; however Mr. Hofmann overpowered her. And, he continued to forcefully tough Ms. Murphy-Taylor's right breast."
According to Maryland court records, Hofmann was later arrested and criminally charged with second degree assault and a fourth degree sexual assault. As part of a plea agreement, the sexual assault charge was not prosecuted. But the lawsuit claims that one day after John Hofmann pleaded guilty to second degree assault, Murphy-Taylor was fired by Sheriff Hofmann for exhausting her leave time, a claim she says is not true.
Murphy-Taylor is suing Sheriff Hofmann and his office for more than $10-million, claiming Hofmann, as well as Major James Williams, was aware of frequent harassment happening between John Hofmann and Murphy-Taylor, but took no action.
The lawsuit also claims Sheriff Hofmann and Williams "made repeated derogatory and offensive statements about Ms. Murphy-Taylor's personal and professional character to members of Maryland's law enforcement community in an effort to ensure she would not be hired elsewhere".
Murphy-Taylor, according to the filing, says she was offered a lesser position back at the Sheriff's Department in August 2011, but told contact with her attacker may be unavoidable. Corporal John Hofmann held his job with the Sheriff's office, at least in some capacity, until November 2011. The Maryland Attorney General's Office tells ABC2 Hofmann's police certification was officially removed November 3 rd, 2011 by the Maryland Police Training Commission.
ABC2 spoke with Sheriff Hofmann late Wednesday. He tells us he removed himself from the situation because of the conflict of interest and had no knowledge of the situation between his brother and the other employee. We were unable to contact John Hofmann. Captain Smith, speaking on behalf of the Sheriff's Office, said it would be inappropriate to comment at this time because the agency had not been served with the lawsuit.
"It hurts, it hurts,” Michael Marion said. “Sometimes I just want to close my eyes when I go by. That way maybe it's not there, but it's there and every day we go by it, my boys see it every day, their bus goes by it every day."
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