Feds get involved in Queen Anne's sheriff's case

The federal government took a step Monday to get involved in a civil case involving a former detective with the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office.

According to the filing by the U.S. Department of Justice, the agency alleges that the Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Gary Hofmann, John Hofmann, Major James Wilson, Queen Anne's County and the State of Maryland violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting a former detective to a sexually hostile work environment and also retaliated against her after the detective filed a complaint.

Court records show federal attorneys are asking for lost wages on behalf of the detective, Kristy Murphy-Taylor, and that sexual harassment policies be implemented within the department.


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The case stems from a September 2012 civil lawsuit filed by Murphy-Taylor in federal court.  As for its desire to be part of the case, the U.S. Department of Justice says, "By intervening, the United States will ensure that the law continues to protect employees and that the price of earning a living will not be enduring constant sexual harassment."

Murphy-Taylor claims she was harassed and eventually fired in 2011 after reporting an assault at the hands of the Sheriff's brother and a corporal within the department, John Hofmann.

Murphy-Taylor says she was riding with John Hofmann in Cecil County in 2009 when he put his hand down her pants and and also grabbed her breasts. Maryland court records show John Hofmann was later arrested and charged with second degree assault and fourth degree sex offense.

The Baltimore District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC, investigated the charges made by  Murphy-Taylor. The Justice Department says the case was referred to them by the EEOC after the agency found reasonable cause to believe Murphy-Taylor was subject to discrimination because of her sex and that they were unsuccessful in attempts to conciliate the matter. 

Federal court records show Murphy-Taylor is suing the Sheriff, his brother, a supervisor, the Sheriff's Office, Queen Anne's County and the state of Maryland for millions of dollars, claiming the Sheriff, his brother and supervisors knew about frequent harassment and took no action.

According to federal court documents, Gary Hofmann and several others named in the original lawsuit, have filed motions asking for more time to respond.

ABC2 spoke to a representative from the Queen Anne's County Office of the Sheriff.  Captain Brian Smith says he's limited in his ability to comment, but indicated there are two sides to every story.

Smith says the Maryland Attorney General's office has elected to represent the Sheriff in the case.  He referred us to the Maryland Attorney General for further comment.  ABC2 requested comment from that agency but has not yet heard back.

Check back with ABC2 News as we continue to follow this story.

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