Investigator: Claim of sexual harassment against DA unfounded

An investigation, sanctioned by Fulton County, has found no sustainable allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation lodged by a former human resources director against District Attorney Paul Howard.

The findings were contained within a request for dismissal from the county to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is investigating claims made last December by Tisa Grimes.

“The independent investigation revealed no evidence substantiating or corroborating Ms. Grimes’s allegations,” wrote assistant county attorney Francesca Black.

That probe, led by an outside investigator, is not over. Still, Black asserts Grimes has offered “no basis for a cause finding against Fulton County for any alleged sexual harassment, retaliation or race discrimination.”

Mario Williams, Grimes’ attorney, called the investigation “an obvious farce, especially given the fact that Fulton County hired a private defense law firm whose leadership admittedly views Fulton County as a ‘business client,’ whose risk should be ‘mitigated.’”

In her EEOC complaint, filed in December, Grimes said she endured months of inappropriate comments and unwelcome physical contact from Howard. She said she was demoted and reassigned to another county agency in retaliation for resisting her boss’ advances.

Last month, Cathy Carter, a former records clerk in the DA's office, filed a similar complaint accusing Howard of harassment. She said the two began a consensual relationship in 2004. Carter alleges she was fired soon after ending it.

Howard’s attorney, Anita Wallace Thomas, cited Carter’s arrest last June for simple battery as the real reason for her termination.

» RELATED: Administrator alleges DA Paul Howard sexually harassed her

» MORE: Former top aide sues Fulton DA, alleging gender discrimination

» ALSO: Former records clerk alleges sexual harassment by Fulton DA 

Grimes, meanwhile, remains employed in the DA’s office. She was moved to an administrative role with Project Level Up, a new initiative targeting at-risk youth in the court system.

She was demoted when Howard became “dissatisfied with Ms. Grimes’ work performance and found that she did not adequately fulfill her duties as the head of Human Resources for the D.A.’s office,” Black wrote.

Grimes, according to the assistant county attorney, has sat down with investigators only once. Also, after claiming she had about 20 audio recordings of interactions with Howard, Grimes eventually conceded none contained sexually suggestive or inappropriate comments by the district attorney.

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