Polk Co. Sheriff's Office launches investigation into sexual harassment allegations

11:05 PM, Jul 24, 2013   |    comments
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Video: A second sex scandal alleged in Polk County

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Bartow, FL -- The Polk County Sheriff's Office says it is launching a criminal and administrative investigation into sexual harassment claims against a bailiff.

The woman at the center of this latest Polk County sex scandal is Alisha Rupp, 34, who claims what she saw and was subjected to inside the Polk County courthouse is creating a hostile work environment no one should have to endure.

Rupp says she held her tongue for months, but that when she complained about it, she was fired.

"I come before you today to expose this unacceptable behavior and to seek justice for the wrongs committed against me," she said at her lawyer's office in Palm Harbor on Wednesday.

Rupp says she was wrongly fired from her job as a judicial assistant in Polk County two weeks ago.

It was retaliation, she says, for complaining about other employees, whom she claims to have witnessed in sex acts. Rupp says she even received sexual advances from another employee, and was threatened with a taser.
"That is wrong and it is against everything in the judicial system that I have been a part of for the past 15 years," said Rupp.

Rupp says she went to Polk County Chief Judge Bruce Smith asking to transfer to a different location in the building, but her request was denied.

Instead, her attorney says Judge Smith sent Rupp a text message letting her know she'd been fired. The text message cites Rupp's non-appearance at work the previous two days, amounting, he said, to a resignation.

Court administrators also claim Rupp had time-card irregularities in the past year and a half. It's an allegation she denies.

"You know, here we go," said Rupp's attorney, David Linesch. "You know it's interesting. Never report sexual harassment because if you do were gonna get ya. And we're gonna drag up stuff that happened a year or year and a half ago?"

Linesch says his client declined to appear for an inquiry about her termination for the same reason.

This is the second sex scandal to hit Polk County in just the past two months.

Linesch also represents Sue Eberle in her complaint against Lakeland Police department.

"And really, no policing of it by those individuals that are responsible for making sure that court employees behave themselves or that police officers behave themselves. It's, um, it's disheartening," he said.

People we spoke with around the Polk County courthouse say this was the first they'd heard of it, but they were shocked.

"The second time in two months? Yeah, that's a big thing," said county worker Latanya Harper-Smith.

See also: Investigation continues into Lakeland PD sex scandal

10 News has reached out to the parties that Ms. Rupp alleges were involved, but so far no calls have been returned.

Rupp's complaint has been forwarded to the chief justice in Tallahassee, and to Polk County state attorney Jerry Hill.

The bailiff Rupp claims sexually harassed her has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Follow 10 News Reporter Eric Glasser on twitter @ericglassertv

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