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Lawsuit accuses Missouri sheriff of telling lieutenant he was in love with her and retaliating against deputy for not keeping his mouth shut

Sheriff Brad Stinson (Ralls County Sheriff's Office)

Sheriff Brad Stinson (Ralls County Sheriff’s Office)

A county sheriff in Missouri is under fire over allegations of sexual misconduct and retaliation against at least two subordinates in the sheriff’s office.

A civil lawsuit filed against Ralls County by Deputy Mark Wesley Braden claims that Sheriff Brad Stinson made inappropriate sexual advances and harassed and discriminated against his subordinate, Lt. Gloria Jennings and retaliated against him for reporting Stinson’s misconduct.

According to the complaint, Braden became aware that Stinson was paying special attention to and showing favoritism toward Jennings in late 2021.

Jennings was Braden’s immediate supervisor at the time, and they were the only two criminal investigators in the sheriff’s department. They shared the same office space. The sheriff also allegedly ordered Braden to leave the office several times to be alone with Jennings.

Braden alleges that Stinson began ordering Jennings to remain at work after her shift ended despite no legitimate operational need to flirt with her.

At one point, Stinson allegedly told Jennings that he was so in love with her that he accidentally backed his patrol vehicle into the restaurant building, the complaint states.

To gain favor with Jennings, Stinson allegedly used public funds to purchase her an iPad, Apple Watch, furniture, and a big-screen TV. The sheriff also allegedly did extra favors for Jennings that he would not do for other employees, such as filling up her gas tank and washing her assigned patrol vehicle.

In Braden heard Stinson complimenting Jennings on her hair and her looks, the complaint states. In that conversation, Braden heard the Sheriff tell Jennings that he hadn’t had sex in 17 years. Braden heard the Sheriff tell her that he loved her and he wanted to have a sexual relationship with her, court records say.

She rejected the sheriff’s advances, as she had done several times before.

She allegedly told Braden the advances made her sick to her stomach and fearful that she would lose her job, according to the suit.

After Braden reported his observations regarding Stinson’s alleged harassment of Jennings on Feb. 17, 2022, he claims the sheriff told him to ignore what he’d seen and heard. He said Stinson’s demeanor toward him turned cold and stern.

Braden alleges Stinson told him he couldn’t believe the deputy wanted to throw his career away and began retaliating against him.

Stinson allegedly ordered Braden to vacate the office he shared with Jennings. He allegedly had him work in an unfinished office next to the sheriff’s office with no door, exposed wiring, or functioning electrical outlets.

In March 2022, Braden was transferred to uniformed night shift patrol.

It prompted him to report Stinson’s harassment and retaliation to the County Commission and the Fraternal Order of Police.

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Braden alleges he was subjected to increased professional scrutiny and reprimanded without cause numerous times by supervisors at Stinson’s request.

After being forced to go on administrative leave, Braden said he was terminated by Stinson on his first day back at work, the complaint said.

The suit alleges the county violated numerous provisions of the Missouri Human Rights Act, the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. Braden alleges multiple procedural steps were not followed following his complaint filings.

He seeks $25,000 for his injuries, which include lost wages, benefits, emotional distress, injury to his reputation, and reinstatement of his original position as a criminal investigator.

The Ralls County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.