Queen Anne’s Sheriff Hofmann’s Good Old Boy Style of Keystone Cops Cost Taxpayers Nearly One Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Sheriff’s brother and supervisors couldn’t keep their hands off of female employee
CENTREVILLE, MD. – There is a price to pay for a continued ‘Good Old Boys’ administration of a law enforcement agency and the taxpayers of Queen Anne’s County, Maryland are paying it. A federal lawsuit ended last year with the assessment of nearly one million paid to the plaintiff in a case of sexual harassment brought by a female employee of the Sheriff.
The recourse of the voters is to dump the Sheriff in the next election.
In Queen Anne’s County, that is not likely to happen. Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann is popular and law enforcement sources say that he does a good job of providing police protection and services to the Eastern Shore county.
His last election opponent provided a possibly worse alternative. A long-time Maryland State Trooper who had never risen above the rank of trooper first class, Kevin Rhodes, when asked if he had the experience to run the agency, told those attending an election forum that he would bring in a team to help him run the agency should he be elected. Rhodes told the crowd that he didn’t use social media as he was too busy being a police officer to fool with it.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s tips to solve crimes often come from the agency’s interaction with the public via social media, a practice that has spread like wildfire across the country.
Each day, law enforcement agencies thank the public for providing crucial tips which lead to the arrest of murders and others wanted for violent crimes or dealing drugs. Another opponent for Sheriff Hofmann in a past election cycle was also a state trooper who ran over and killed a pedestrian while he was on his way to work.
A political faction in Queen Anne’s County continues to field candidates but none appear to be able to threaten the hold that Hofmann has on his job.
Hofmann’s administration of the department should be questioned by taxpayers after a huge settlement was announced last year, all leading back to the way he runs the agency. The Sheriff’s brother was decertified as a police officer by the Maryland Police Training Commission after he entered a guilty plea to sexual assault and was put on probation.
The fired deputy who won the settlement is married to another officer, Prince Georges County Police Officer Cpl. Donald Taylor, who was charged with lying in official reports after a video surfaced which showed he had attacked a teen when he hit him with his gun and the gun fired.
Sheriff Hofmann provided the following comment on the Facebook page of THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY: Sheriff Gary Hofmann “The heroin is a local issue, state issue and nationwide epidemic that is claiming innocent lives, we agree that more can be done but we need the help of community members, i would encourage Kyle Walker and Billy Martin to volunteer with a local organization to help address this nationwide epidemic. It is factual that the Chesapeake Paper only printed the allegations of the issue, made light of political opponents, but they did not print the findings. But then it wouldn’t be a topic worth sharing two years after the last election, i find it interesting all of the negative posters, don’t point out how safe their community really is because of the policing provided. I accept their criticism and appreciate their input on an issue that is years ago.”
2014 General Election results for Queen Anne’s County Sheriff
Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Democratic 2,202 5,752 247 8,201 43.1%
Gary Hofmann Winner Selected
Republican 2,826 7,606 348 10,780 56.7%
N/A 8 36 0 44 0.2%
2010 General Election results for Queen Anne’s County Sheriff
Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Democratic 880 5,168 440 6,488 33.2%
Gary Hofmann Winner Selected
Republican 1,692 9,910 689 12,291 62.9%
Charles “Pete” Richter
Constitution 74 632 39 745 3.8%
N/A 1 17 2 20 0.1%
The following are the details of the Queen Anne’s Sheriff action:
WARNING – some of the details are graphic in describing sexual assault committed by Sheriff Hofmann’s brother who was promoted in his job by Sheriff Hofmann to the role of a supervisor in the Sheriff’s Office.
The Justice Department announced on Feb. 12, 2015, that it has entered into a consent decree with the state of Maryland and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff. If approved by the court, the settlement will resolve Murphy-Taylor v. State of Maryland, et al., a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit in which the United States intervened in Feb. 2013. The United States previously entered into a consent decree with Queen Anne’s County in May 2014.
The United States’ complaint in intervention alleged that several supervisors in the Sheriff’s Office, including the Sheriff’s brother, subjected Kristy Murphy-Taylor to severe sexual harassment and that the Sheriff and members of his command staff retaliated against her when she complained in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The United States’ complaint in intervention alleged that several supervisors in the Sheriff’s Office, including the Sheriff’s brother, subjected Kristy Murphy-Taylor to severe sexual harassment and that the Sheriff and members of his command staff retaliated against her when she complained in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the United States’ complaint, over a number of years, Ms. Murphy-Taylor was subjected to numerous acts of unwanted sexual conduct by multiple supervisors including repeated incidents of unwanted sexual touching by the Sheriff’s brother. Despite Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s complaints about the harassment, the complaint alleges that the defendants failed to take prompt and effective corrective action. Instead, they allegedly subjected her to intolerable working conditions intended to make her quit, and ultimately terminated her for complaining about the sexual harassment by the Sheriff’s brother.
Ms. Murphy- Taylor will also receive $250,000 in damages. Under the terms of the consent decree entered into with Queen Anne’s County in May 2014, Ms. Murphy-Taylor received $620,000 in damages including backpay, frontpay, and attorney’s fees, and Queen Anne’s County agreed to provide oversight and investigative functions for the handling of complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation made by employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
Under the terms of the consent decree with the state of Maryland and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff, the defendants have agreed to revise the relevant sexual harassment policies and the procedures for handling complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation. In particular, the Maryland State Police will provide oversight for the handling of complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation made by employees of the Sheriff’s Office against sworn officers. Ms. Murphy- Taylor will also receive $250,000 in damages. Under the terms of the consent decree entered into with Queen Anne’s County in May 2014, Ms. Murphy-Taylor received $620,000 in damages including backpay, frontpay, and attorney’s fees, and Queen Anne’s County agreed to provide oversight and investigative functions for the handling of complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation made by employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
“No woman should have to face losing her job in order to be free from sexual harassment and retaliation at work,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to eradicating sex discrimination in the workplace. The resolution of this lawsuit ensures that the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office will comply with federal law requiring employers to take prompt and effective corrective action to complaints of sexual harassment.”
“Workplace harassment should not be tolerated,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “Complaints of workplace harassment are among the most frequent complaints we receive at EEOC, accounting for 30% of the total charges we received last year. The Commission is working to prevent and address harassment through targeted outreach and enforcement.”
“This is another example of how collaboration between EEOC and the Department of Justice leads to effective enforcement of Title VII and ensures that public employees are protected from workplace discrimination and retaliation prohibited by Title VII,” said Director Spencer H. Lewis Jr. of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC has offices in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
This lawsuit was brought by the Department of Justice as a result of a joint effort to enhance collaboration between the EEOC and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for vigorous enforcement of Title VII.
The Maryland Police Training Commission revoked John Dennis Hofmann’s certification as a police officer and issued the follow statement to the Annapolis-based Capital Gazette:
“The Commission is concerned that the interests of public safety may be at risk if Mr. Hofmann remains authorized to exercise the legal authority of a police officer in the State of Maryland.”
The Police Training Commission, which includes the state police superintendent, the state public safety secretary, an FBI supervisor and police officials from around the state, wasn’t swayed by charges from Hofmann that Murphy-Taylor had initiated inappropriate contact.
Even if some of Hofmann’s account was true, it said, he was a supervisor and could have reprimanded his subordinate for dressing inappropriately or told her to act more professionally.
“Instead, the evidence before the Commission gives the appearance and/or impression that Mr. Hofmann found it OK so long as he was afforded the opportunity to see and/or touch Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s breasts,” the commission wrote.
Allegations in the lawsuit included criminal assault charges against Sheriff Hofmann’s brother who lost his certification as a police officer but kept on the job by Sheriff Gary Hofmann.
Plaintiff, Kristy Murphy-Taylor, joined the Sheriff’s Office as a deputy sheriff in 1999.
From June 2005 until July 2010, Plaintiff served as a detective in the Criminal Investigation
Division (“CID”) of the Sheriff’s Office. At various times during her assignment as a detective with the CID, Ms. Murphy-Taylor was supervised by four employees: Captain Curtis Benton, Dennis Hofmann, who was promoted from the rank of corporal to sergeant and then to first sergeant, Lieutenant Dale Patrick and Corporal Stephen Stouffer.
- For the majority of her time in the CID, Ms. Murphy-Taylor was supervised directly by Dennis Hofmann while he was a sergeant. Dennis Hofmann’s supervisory responsibilities with respect to Ms. Murphy-Taylor included, among other things, giving assignments, determining discipline, formulating her work schedule, completing performance evaluations and approving training.
- Dennis Hofmann is the brother of Defendant Sheriff Gary Hofmann.
- Between 2005 and 2009, when Ms. Murphy-Taylor was assigned to the CID of the Sheriff’s Office, she was subjected to numerous acts of unwanted, offensive conduct of a sexual nature by multiple supervisors including, but not limited to, multiple sexual assaults by Dennis Hofmann; sexually explicit comments about Ms. Murphy-Taylor and other female officers by Lieutenant Dale Patrick and Corporal Stephen Stouffer; derogatory comments about Ms. Murphy-Taylor based on her gender and women in general by Captain Benton; and unwanted touching by Lieutenant Patrick.
- Upon Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s initial assignment as a detective with the CID in June 2005, Captain Curtis Benton made several remarks to her that were derogatory to women. In one instance, Captain Benton remarked to Ms. Murphy-Taylor in regard to the first search warrant that she served, that “this was the first search warrant a female has ever written and probably will be the last.”
- On or around September 2005, Ms. Murphy-Taylor complained to the Human Resources Department of Queen Anne’s County about the offensive comments about women that Captain Benton made to her. Ms. Murphy-Taylor was told by representatives of the Human Resources Department that nothing could be done about the offensive comments because a Sheriff’s Office Captain is an appointed position.
- Beginning around November 2006 until August 2009, Dennis Hofmann attempted to touch Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s breasts in the CID offices and in Sheriffs vehicles on numerous occasions. The conduct described was without Plaintiffs consent.
- On or around June 2007, Dennis Hofmann sexually assaulted Ms. Murphy-Taylor in a hotel room while they were attending an off-site training course as part of their jobs at the Sheriff’s Office.
- On or around August 2007, Ms. Murphy-Taylor complained to the Sheriff both about the sexual assault at the off-site training course as well as the continuous sexual assaults against her
by Dennis Hofmann.
- Sheriff Hofmann did not investigate Plaintiffs August 2007 sexual assault complaint against Dennis Hofmann or take any corrective action to prevent further sexual harassment of Ms. Murphy-Taylor by Dennis Hofmann. Dennis Hofmann continued to sexually harass Ms.Murphy-Taylor after her August 2007 complaint and was subsequently promoted by the Sheriff notwithstanding Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s complaints about Dennis Hofmann’s offensive and unwanted conduct.
- On or about August 25, 2009, Dennis Hofmann continued to work closely with Ms. Murphy-Taylor despite her previous complaints about his sexual assaults upon her. On that date, Dennis Hofmann committed a sexual assault upon the Plaintiffs person while both were in an official Sheriff’s Office vehicle, and on official business. Specifically, on that date as Dennis Hofmann and Ms. Murphy-Taylor were driving home from county court, Hofmann forced his hand down the front of Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s pants and touched her vaginal area. He also forcibly put his hand inside Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s blouse and touched her breasts. Ms. Murphy-Taylor told him to stop and tried to push his hand away, but he overpowered her and continued to touch her.
- On or about November 2, 2009, Detective Stouffer made sexually explicit comments about Ms. Murphy-Taylor and another female detective. Specifically, Detective Stouffer stated that he knew Ms. Murphy-Taylor and the other female detective had “licked each other’s p—–– last night” when the two female officers had stayed at a hotel while attending an off-site training. The other female detective, to whom the comments were made, told Ms. Murphy-Taylor about these comments
- On or about November 10, 2009, Lieutenant Patrick made derogatory comments about women in regard to Ms. Murphy-Taylor and another female detective in the presence of other officers including Dennis Hofmann. Specifically, Lieutenant Patrick stated that he needed to figure out which of the female detectives “was the biggest tramp” in order to receive free items from an off-site training that Ms. Murphy-Taylor and the other female detective had attended.
- On or about November 18, 2009, Lieutenant Patrick and Detective Stouffer made sexually explicit comments about Ms. Murphy-Taylor and another female detective.
Specifically, Lieutenant Patrick and Detective Stouffer said that they knew that Ms. Murphy-Taylor
and the other female detective had sex at the off-site they training they had attended. The other female detective, to whom the comments were made, told Ms. Murphy-Taylor about these comments.
- On or around November 18, 2009, Ms. Murphy-Taylor met with Captain James Williams and the Queen Anne’s County Administrator at which meeting Ms. Murphy-Taylor complained that she had been sexually harassed numerous times while on her job.
- On or around November 20, 2009, Ms. Murphy-Taylor filed a written complaint of sexual harassment with Captain Williams in regard to the harassment she had faced on her job.
- On or around December 2009, Detective Stouffer was promoted to corporal.
- On or around February 2, 2010, Ms. Murphy-Taylor filed another written complaint of
sexual harassment with Captain Williams in regard to the harassment she had faced on her job.
- During the investigation of Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s sexual harassment complaints referred to in paragraphs 18, 21, 27 – 28, and 30, the Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office management continued to have Ms. Murphy-Taylor supervised by the individuals who sexually harassed her.
- The Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office management substantiated Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s sexual harassment complaints against Dennis Hofmann, Lieutenant Patrick, and Corporal Stouffer; nevertheless, they allowed the harassers to remain in supervisory positions.
- On April 8, 2010, Ms. Murphy-Taylor complained to Major Williams about continued
contact with Dennis Hofmann during the investigation of her sexual harassment complaints against him despite the fact that she had requested no contact with him. Her “no contact” request was denied and Ms. Murphy-Taylor continued to work with Dennis Hofmann while her complaints of sexual harassment against him were investigated by her employers. After Plaintiffs sexual harassment complaints against Dennis Hofmann were substantiated, her employers continued to allow him to work closely with the Plaintiff and ignored her request that she have no further contact with him. No effective action was taken to prevent contact between Ms. Murphy-Taylor and Dennis Hofmann or to otherwise redress the sexual harassment to which she had been subjected.
- After complaining about the sexual harassment she faced at the Sheriff’s Office, Ms. Murphy-Taylor was subjected to numerous acts of reprisal by the Sheriff and management officials with the Sheriff’s Office between December 2009 and July 2010 including, but not limited, to the following:
- being forced to work with the supervisors against whom she had filed complaints of sexual harassment while those complaints were being investigated;
- being forced to work with the supervisors against whom she had filed complaints of sexual harassment after her sexual harassment complaints against those supervisors were substantiated;
- being singled out to receive an undesirable assignment during severe weather:
- facing disparate treatment in working conditions such as having a “no personal items or business at work” policy enforced against her that was not enforced against other officers in the CID;
- receiving on July 20, 2010, a lower performance evaluation when compared with evaluations that she received prior to her 2009 and 2010 sexual harassment complaints;
- receiving unjustified feedback criticizing her investigative report writing;
- being subjected to rumors by the Sheriff and senior management in the Sheriff’s Office that she only filed the written sexual harassment complaints against Dennis Hofmann because she was a “jilted lover” and Dennis Hofmann had broken off a consensual affair.
The rumors about the affair were spread by the Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office management even after they had substantiated Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s sexual harassment complaints against Dennis Hofmann in June 2010 through an internal investigation.
- On July 22, 2010, Ms. Murphy-Taylor went on medical leave from the Sheriff’s Office
because of the extreme emotional stress that she faced at the Sheriff’s Office. Ms. Murphy-Taylor was never able to return to her job because of the failure of the Sheriff and senior management in the Sheriff’s Office to provide her with a work environment in which she would have no contact with Dennis Hofmann. Ms. Murphy-Taylor was subjected to ongoing retaliatory harassment, such as the rumors that she filed her sexual harassment complaints because she and Dennis Hofmann had broken off a consensual affair, from the Sheriff and his senior management further preventing her from returning to work.
- On May 12, 2011, Dennis Hofmann pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree based on the facts set forth in paragraph 23, and was sentenced to probation for three years.
- One day later, on May 13, 2011, the Sheriff Hofmann terminated Ms. Murphy-Taylor.
- Ms. Murphy-Taylor was not warned before she was terminated that failure to return to work would result in termination. Also, at the time of her termination, Ms. Murphy-Taylor was not offered any options in lieu of termination such as going on leave without pay status.
- Before a workers’ compensation hearing for Ms. Murphy-Taylor on August 3, 2011, the Sheriff offered Ms. Murphy-Taylor an opportunity to return to work at the Sheriff’s office; however, this offer entailed returning to a work environment in a demoted position to a division where Dennis Hofmann was a supervisor, and with no guarantee of separation from him even after he had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her.
- After Dennis Hofmann pleaded guilty in a criminal proceeding to assault in the second degree, Defendants retained him as a supervisor.
- On or around November 2011, the Maryland Police Training Commission (“MPTC”)
conducted a hearing in response to Dennis Hofmann’s guilty plea, to determine whether he had the moral character to remain a Maryland law enforcement officer. By a nearly unanimous vote of the panel (12 members voted to decertify and one abstained), Dennis Hofmann lost his police license in December 2011. Dennis Hofmann continued to work at the Sheriff’s Office for a time even after he was decertified.