Report condemns two Polk County judges for their conduct - FOX 13 News

Report condemns two Polk County judges for their conduct

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POLK (FOX 13) -

State Attorney Jerry Hill released a stinging investigative report condemning two Polk County judges for their conduct.  Judge Beth Harlan is charged with defrauding taxpayers and grand theft.

"Circuit Judge Beth Harlan schemed with her judicial assistant to defraud the taxpayers of the Tenth Judicial Circuit," said Hill in the report. 

Hill continued that Harlan "refused to make the most basic and obvious decision to not allow her secretary to fraudulently be paid for time she did not work."

Investigators say Harlan repeatedly signed off on Alisha Rupp's time sheets, knowing that she never worked the hours.  Investigators say on one occasion, Rupp skipped work to get a massage.

When the time sheet came to light, Rupp was fired.  Shortly after that, Rupp claimed that courthouse bailiff Deputy "Bubba" Maxcy sexually harassed and threatened her because she complained about his rumored sexual relationship with Judge Susan Flood. 

Flood is the other judge under investigation by the State Attorney's Office.

"Judge Flood encouraged the impropriety with the bailiff ... Judge Flood gave no thought or consideration to how her conduct reflected on the judiciary," Hill said in the report.

Investigators say Rupp's harassment claims are not true, but that Judge Flood's affair probably is.  According to the state attorney's report, Rupp later recanted her story.  Hill says the judges have brought shame upon the courthouse.

"It's disgusting.  That's why people have no faith in the government, have no faith in politicians at any level," Polk County Resident Chris Thornhill told FOX 13.  "This is a perfect example of that."

During an intense two-hour interrogation under oath, Judge Flood denied any sexual involvement with the bailiff, who was married.  But the judge, who was also married, had a hard time answering questions about inappropriate hugs, kisses, and explicit text messages with Maxcy.
    
"I want to know if you gotten any or sent any sexual related text messages between each other's cell phones," asked the investigator.

"There, no, we, we, we have texted each other, you know, love you, see you tomorrow, but not anything sexually inappropriate," answered Flood.

"Any sexual banter between the two of you?  Any reference to any kind of sexual activity between the two of you?" pressed the investigator.

"I don't, I don't ..." she answered.  "I don't, I don't know.  I don't, I can't recall anything like that."

In his report, State Attorney Hill called out Judge Flood's character, saying that character is "what we do when we think no one's looking."  And during a break during the questioning, video showed that when no one was looking, Judge Flood looked at the investigators' notes.

Judge Harlan is on voluntary suspension from the bench, while the investigation continues.  Judge Flood does not face any criminal charges.  The Judicial Qualifications Commission is monitoring the situation.

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