Missourinet has obtained a copy of a 19-page report that details, at times, vulgar allegations of harassment and retaliation within one of the Department of Corrections’ institutions. The report was compiled in 2016 by Kansas City attorney Ann Molloy about the Kansas City Re-entry Center. The facility is a minimum-security prison.
To view Molloy’s entire report, click here. Warning: some of the content in this report is graphic.
Another investigation released in November by the Pitch.com uncovered more than 60 lawsuits filed by corrections workers alleging harassment and retaliation by fellow employees, including supervisors. The Pitch’s story also found that the state had paid more than $7 million during a four year period to settle some of these cases.
Molloy’s report centers on three female workers: Tina Gallego, Debra Hesse and Ana Barrios. The allegations reported were against three male correctional officers: Brandon Edwards, Charles Lawrence and Kevin Bryan. Molloy’s investigation also included interviewing DOC officials who the complaints were reportedly made to.
The report recounts public employees’ profane, sexually offensive, racist and threatening language. It also describes internal resistance from prison officials to release documents to Molloy.
Department of Corrections Spokesman David Owen says the department does not comment on matters under litigation.
In an exclusive interview, Missourinet asked Missouri Corrections Officers Association executive director Gary Gross if he was surprised by the activities described in the report.
“Not really. I had discussed these issues on other occasions and were somewhat aware of what was in the report,” says Gross.
Gross says many of the upper level staff members are no longer with the agency.
“It’s staggering to think that all of these things were occurring at the worksite and an employee would have to endure that type of activity on the job,” says Gross. “Kansas City is not the only place this type of activity has gone on. That’s an extreme case maybe but there’s lots of cases.”
An investigation launched by a Missouri House of Representatives committee at the end of 2016 has raised the concerns of lawmakers about incidents that have happened in the past few years, before newly-elected Gov. Eric Greitens (R) brought in a new director.
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) was instrumental in forming the committee investigating the work environment within the Corrections Department. He says anything is on the table, including subpoenaing department personnel, to get to the root cause of problems at the agency.
“The kind of activity that has occurred, and the kind of activity that’s been alleged is completely unacceptable,” says Richardson. “It should be unacceptable anywhere. It certainly should be unacceptable in a state agency.”
State Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford) chairs the special House committee. In an exclusive interview with Missourinet, Hansen says he’s received emails and the committee’s hearings have produced testimony with similar accounts that have been discussed in Molloy’s report.
“It’s not something that we haven’t heard in our institutions. I mean it’s a big case, trust me. There’s some really explicit language in this report,” says Hansen. “My big thing will be to see how we handle these investigations in the future and handle them faster and do they get to the right people and do they not get covered up.”
Hansen wants greater oversight by the wardens.
“Where is the warden’s responsibility when these things are going on in their institutions? I don’t think the wardens. The buck should stop at their desk or they should be aware of anything like this going on in their institution,” says Hansen. “I feel like if they’re not aware of this type of behavior, then they’re just as responsible.”
Hansen’s committee will soon submit its report with recommendations. One of the recommendations is expected to include the committee receiving a monthly update from the DOC director.
Since the change of administration in Kansas City, Gross has not heard of any complaints alleging retaliation or harassment.
“I think they have pretty well shut that down up there, at least for the time being. We do continue to have reports from a few of the other institutions around the state of still cases of harassment and retaliation going on,” says Gross.
He says under new DOC director Anne Precythe, the level of such complaints has tremendously declined. Before Precythe took over, Gross says he had virtually no contact with upper level officials about how to solve some of the issues overshadowing the department.
“Since the new director, Ms. Precythe, has taken over, we have had numerous meetings and discussions about different issues and things to work on,” says Gross.
The governor’s office denied an open records request made by Missourinet for Molloy’s report, with governor’s special counsel citing a portion of the Missouri records statute: