Clayton settles police sex harassment suit

Clayton County paid a former police recruit $70,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Lawyers for the recruit accepted the county commission's settlement agreement, county attorney Jack Hancock said Tuesday night.

Last month, the former female recruit filed a federal lawsuit, alleging a veteran officer fondled her and Chief Jeffrey Turner condoned it.

The recruit's attorney, Terry-Dawn Thomas, did not return a phone nor an e-mail Tuesday night.

The settlement amount was agreed upon during mediation and approved by the board of commissioners, Hancock said.

"It would have cost more than that [in attorneys' fees] to try the case," he said.

Internal police records show Clayton Officer Henry Derbyshire admitted last year to kissing, fondling and sexually harassing the recruit during the hiring process. Derbyshire, who retired last month after 28 years, was demoted from sergeant to patrol officer after investigators found he violated the county's sexual harassment policy.

The woman, who dropped out of the application process after the incident, wanted the officer fired, her attorney said. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not name victims of sexual assault.

Clayton is also looking into a second sexual harassment complaint in the county police department.

Last week, the county received notice of a second pending suit from a female officer and hired an attorney to investigate it, Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said last week.

The county is still reviewing the pending suit notice and plans to respond, Hancock said Tuesday.