3 employees file action in Dallas County District Court alleging gay official is abusive, incompetent to serve
Three employees of gay Precinct 5 Constable Mike Dupree filed a petition in Dallas County District Court this week in an attempt to remove their embattled boss from his elected office.
The employees, who filed the petition on Monday, March 26, on behalf of the state of Texas, are clerk Rafael Hernandez and deputy constables Leo Armendariz and Robert Aaron McCarty. The petition alleges that Dupree sexually harassed two current male employees and one former employee by making “inappropriate social and sexual advances” toward them, and that the employees suffered retribution in the form of transfers to other divisions when they rebuffed Dupree.
A sexual harassment investigation is currently under way against Dupree. The Dallas County Commissioners Court appointed retired Fort Worth Judge Maryellen Hicks on March 6 to investigate human resources department complaints filed by three employees who alleged they were forced to work in a hostile environment.
The petition also alleges that Dupree is incompetent to carry out his duties, citing “gross ignorance of his official duties or gross carelessness in the discharge of his official duties.”
The allegation of incompetence was made in connection with three County Court at Law No. 4 judgments Dupree’s office was charged with administering. It alleges that Dupree failed to seize property to satisfy the three judgments, and that his failure to carry out those duties made Dallas County liable for $709,386.48 in damages and interest.
The petition asks for a special judge to be appointed in the case and for Dupree to be suspended without pay pending a jury trial. That would require the appointment of a temporary official to serve while the legal action is pending.
Dupree’s lawyer, John Barr, said the petition is not a surprise to him, nor the constable.
“My initial feeling is, so what else is new?” Barr said. “This was expected.”
Dallas County Commissioner Ken Mayfield said in a previous interview about the employees’ complaints that he expected a petition to remove Dupree from office would be filed by the employees. Mayfield had called for an investigation of Dupree in late January based on media reports about the constable’s relationships with two men who were not his employees.
The Commissioners Court ordered the district attorney’s office on Feb. 27 to launch an outside investigation of Dupree after the employees filed the complaints. Those employees were Hernandez, Armendariz and a supervisor who claimed he had witnessed Dupree sexually harassing the clerk and deputy.
Dupree left on a two-week vacation the day the investigation was ordered. He has not spoken to the media about the complaints. A spokeswoman in Dupree’s office said on Wednesday, March 28, he was not in the office.
While Dupree was still on vacation, McCarty, who had written a letter to Dallas Voice defending Dupree against the allegations when they first arose, turned on the constable and filed his own hostile workplace complaint on March 9.
McCarty said he defended Dupree in the letter to the editor and a newspaper interview because he feared losing his job if he refused the constable’s request for public support. The petition alleges that McCarty observed Dupree sexually harassing a former employee, Joey Solis.
Barr said that he has scheduled a meeting with Dupree to discuss the petition. The lawyer, whose office is near Dupree’s office, said he is concerned about the employees’ preoccupation with their complaints about the constable.
“I’d rather the guys be out on the street trying to deter crime and serving papers rather than continually having all of this stuff,” Barr said.
Barr said he is unsure what action Dupree will want to take, including whether he might resign rather than face a protracted court fight.
“I have no clue,” Barr said. “I don’t have any idea.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 30, 2007