Labor & Employment

Judge, fired aide charged in time entry case; another judge's claimed sex with bailiff unproven

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The plot has thickened in the case of a fired Florida court worker who claimed she had been subjected to a hostile work environment related to a judge’s alleged sexual encounter with a bailiff in chambers.

Ex-employee Alisha Rupp subsequently admitted that she herself had had a relationship with the bailiff and said she welcomed his advances at work, contradicting her prior claims of sexual harassment, according to a special investigation report (PDF) by the state attorney’s office. Rupp continued to claim that the bailiff was also involved with Polk County Judge Susan Barber Flood, who denied an allegation by Rupp that she walked in on the judge having sex with the bailiff in chambers as “false and baseless.”

Meanwhile, Rupp and a different judge, for whom she worked, have both been arrested and criminally charged. They are accused of defrauding taxpayers by arranging to have Rupp paid a little over $1,000 for time she didn’t actually work, recounts a Lakeland Ledger editorial.

Rupp and 10th Circuit Judge Beth Harlan both face charges of scheming to defraud and grand theft in the Polk County case; Rupp is also charged with misdemeanor perjury and making a false police report.

An earlier Ledger news article notes that the special investigation report criticized Flood for the “inappropriate manner in which” she and James “Bubba” Maxcy III “carried on at the courthouse,” but said prosecutors concluded that “direct evidence” to support Rupp’s claims that Flood and her bailiff had a sexual relationship was lacking.

Flood and Maxcy exchanged some 5,400 texts over the course of seven months in 2013, among other questionable conduct, investigators found. The report also suggests that Flood was not fully candid and forthcoming during an interview, providing “halting, uncertain” answers that conflicted, on at least one point (whether she had been warned about the impropriety of her conduct), with the sworn testimony of other judges. What she said during an interview with a Ledger reporter about her relationship with Maxcy was also “misleading at best,” the report states.

“All four individuals involved in this matter, Judge Flood, Judge Harlan, Bubba Maxcy and Alisha Rupp, have brought shame to the circuit for their conduct,” the report concludes. “Some of the conduct rises to the levels of criminal behavior and as such criminal charges have been filed today against Alisha Rupp and Judge Harlan. Judge Flood should answer to the public, her fellow judges and the Judicial Qualifications Commission for her behavior.”

Harlan has voluntarily stepped down from presiding over cases and is being paid her full salary pending resolution of the criminal case, another Ledger article reports.

Flood has not been charged with any crime and remains on the bench.

See also: “Fired court worker says she saw judge have sex with bailiff; judge calls claim ‘false and baseless’”

Tampa Tribune: “Polk County judge, assistant accused of falsifying time sheets”

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