County mayor supports chief deputy accused of raping an employee

HARDEMAN COUNTY, TN (WMC) - A lawsuit filed against Hardeman County accuses Chief Deputy Sheriff Billy Davis of raping a Hardeman County Sheriff's Office employee.

Davis is named in the lawsuit, but he has not been charged with a crime at this point. He could not be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Davis was the victim's supervisor when he allegedly forced himself on the the employee on more than one occasion.

"It's outrageous for someone in that much power to take over control of a person in their office," resident David Daniel said.

In late June 2016, the employee said Davis raped her while they were both at work. She said she refused his advances and told him to stop.

One week later, the employee was fired.

The woman worked as an administrative assistant for the Hardeman County Sheriff's Office from 2004 until July 2016.

The lawsuit alleges that the employee was fired for refusing to comply with Davis' sexual desires, adding, "An express or implied condition for [the victim] to receive job benefits or continued employment was submitting to Chief Davis' sexual advances."

The county mayor said he recommended the woman to be terminated six months before she was actually fired.

"That recommendation came on the fact she had falsified documents, violated county policy, and insubordination," Mayor Jimmy Sain said.

The lawsuit says Chief Davis created a hostile work environment for the victim and her termination violates the Tennessee Human Rights Act, which stipulates that discriminatory action cannot be taken against an employee based on their sex.

"A reasonable person would find it offensive to work with a supervisor who daily crossed the line between professional and personal," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit adds that Hardeman County is liable for Davis' unlawful conduct. The lawsuit claims Hardeman County officials permitted the sexual harassment, adding, "Hardeman County knew or should have known about the unlawful sexual harassment, but failed to take prompt, corrective action."

In the lawsuit, the victim asks for a jury to hear her claims against Hardeman County and that she be awarded compensatory damages. She also asks to be reinstated in her former job at Hardeman County Sheriff's Office.

The mayor said he is supporting Davis.

"I think he does a fine job and I back him 150 percent," Sain said.

Sheriff John Doolen said he could not comment on the case because it was being investigated by the TBI.

The woman's attorney said he believes the allegations in the lawsuit are true. He would not comment on why it took the woman nine months to file the complaint.

"The complaint speaks for itself. I am not willing to comment on the merits of the case," Barnett said.

Hardeman County has 30 days to answer the complaint. By then, the TBI could have the results of the investigation.

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