GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A Galveston County jury awarded more than $550,000 in back pay and damages Friday to a former county employee who accused his boss at the time of sexual harassment.
The Galveston County Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1gmUKRn ) that the jury deliberated for five hours before returning a unanimous verdict in favor of former Galveston County Deputy Constable James Gist, who said that former Constable Pam Matranga repeatedly forced herself on him. The county will pay him the back pay, damages and about $97,000 in attorney's fees.
Gist resigned from the constable's office in 2011 after the district attorney's office began investigating Gist's attempt to get video evidence of the harassment. He was never charged. Gist now works at the Clear Lake Shores Police Department. Matranga lost her run for re-election in a May 2012 primary.
"It was about sex, and it was about power," said Gist's attorney Anthony Griffin. "The only way she could engage in such conduct is because of that badge on her blouse." He said the county failed to act even though Matranga's reputation for bawdy jokes and lifting her shirt over employees' heads was well known.
Barry Willey, who represented Galveston County, told jurors that Gist had been a willing participant in the inappropriate conduct and was upset when another employee received a promotion he wanted. He said Gist should have taken his complaints to the county's human resources department.
"He didn't want to try to stop the behavior," Willey said. "He wanted to try to record the behavior and hit it big."
Matranga later underwent sexual harassment training.
Griffin argued to jurors that just because Matranga was a woman, it did not make the harassment more permissible.
Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com