Charlotte Trotter, a corrections officer at the Fayette County Detention Center, took the witness stand Monday in Fayette Circuit Court and told jurors that she was sexually harassed several times while on the job, then she became a victim of retaliation for reporting the incidents.
Trotter was the first witness in a trial concerning a lawsuit she filed against the local government, former jail director Ron Bishop and jail Maj. Michael Korb in November 2009. The trial is expected to last through Thursday.
Trotter, an employee of the jail since 2000, was described by her attorney, Shane Sidebottom, as having a "relatively clean work history" until August 2009. That's when Korb began sexually harassing her, according to Trotter and her attorney.
Trotter, in a soft voice, told jurors about working 50 to 70 hours a week in a high-stress, sometimes dangerous job. She said before August 2009, she hadn't had many dealings with Korb, and that those dealings were professional, not social.
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The first incident of sexual harassment occurred while she was on a smoke break at the jail, she said. She said Korb grabbed her and pulled her into him and said, "You know you want this."
"I was in shock," she said.
Trotter said she did not report the incident right away because she thought it was a "one-time thing."
Later, there was another incident: Korb came up to Trotter as she was preparing to move an inmate, she said. Korb said he wanted to tell her about his wet dreams, she said.
Another time, while she was on a break, Korb leaned into her, forcing his body weight onto her, and touched her breast, she said.
Trotter, the first witness in the trial, said she told an official in the city's human resources department that she just wanted the harassment to stop. One of Trotter's own bosses told her to "let it go," that her complaints could cost her her job, she said.
After she filed the lawsuit, she said, she received "coaching and counseling" sessions from bosses for various alleged on-the-job infractions, including taking a few extra breaks. Later came written reprimands, suspensions from work, an order to report to an employee assistance program professional, and an internal affairs investigation of her, which included questioning her about her lawsuit, she said.
Then, while she was on medical leave because of stress, she received a letter saying that she was being suspended from work for 40 hours for insubordination and inefficiency, she said. She later received another letter, a "last chance letter," while on medical leave, she said.
Trotter, who said in her lawsuit that she was placed under direct supervision of Korb in October 2009, said Monday that Korb remains her boss.
Trotter was questioned Monday. She's expected to take the stand Tuesday morning to face questions from attorneys for the local government, for Bishop and for Korb.