New documents in a Fayette County jail employee's whistle-blower lawsuit allege that she faces continuing retaliation for informing officials that a persistent felony offender was working as a court officer at the jail.
The documents filed last week by Doris Zirbes against the Urban County Government also reveal that jail officials are looking into whether a male corrections officers acted inappropriately toward a female inmate.
In a lawsuit filed in January, Zirbes contended that jail officials violated the whistle-blower statute when they stripped her of her rank and placed her on leave. That was in retaliation for informing police and Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson that Francis Baker, then a pre-trial officer at the jail, had a lengthy criminal record and regularly had access to law enforcement databases
Baker's job was to monitor inmates and provide information to judges, which factored into decisions about bail. Zirbes said Baker continued to access sensitive information with the jail's knowledge after the Kentucky State Police ordered him not to do so.
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City officials said in response to the suit that they did not retaliate against Zirbes, but they did warn her not to talk to outside agencies about problems at the jail.
In July, following a Herald-Leader article about the Zirbes case, state Administrative Office of the Courts officials said they erred in hiring Baker for the jail position and transferred him to a desk job at AOC's Frankfort headquarters.
But Zirbes continued to be punished for reporting the misconduct, she alleges in court documents. An amended complaint filed Oct. 9 in the whistle-blower lawsuit says that Zirbes was given an eight-hour leave without pay Sept. 25 and that her reports of misconduct in regard to Baker were a factor in the punishment.
Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry's chief of staff, Shaye Rabold, declined to comment on the new allegations.
Between January and May, Zirbes was approached by a female inmate who informed her that a corrections officer was making inappropriate comments, writing her letters and putting money in the inmate's account at the jail commissary, court documents say. The corrections officer was not identified in the records.
Because of the problems Zirbes had experienced earlier, "she was under the belief that nothing would be investigated if the accusations were brought forth by her," detention center Capt. Dwight Hall wrote in a Sept. 9 jail memorandum filed with the new complaint.
Instead of telling her supervisors about the inmate's complaint, Zirbes told the inmate to take her harassment complaint to the jail's Inmate Services department.
In early September, Zirbes was notified that she was being investigated for failing to report the inmate's allegations to the chain of command, according to the new complaint.
Zirbes testified about her whistle-blower complaint in the Baker case in a deposition Sept. 8.
Two days later, even though Zirbes' commanding officer had suggested she get an oral warning for not telling supervisors about the harassment allegations, detention center Maj. Michael Korb recommended that she be suspended or fired.
Two other corrections officers were given coaching and counseling for not telling their supervisors about the inmate's allegations. The new complaint says that the level of discipline against Zirbes was enhanced because she reported Baker's misconduct in accessing the jail database.
Zirbes "has received continued retaliation for filing a whistle-blower action and giving her deposition in an official proceeding," the Oct. 9 complaint said.