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County Attorney Faces Removal From Office

Oct 5, 2016

Van Buren County Attorney Abraham Watkins will have to defend himself against claims of sexual harassment and working while intoxicated.

Watkins is 22 months into his first four-year term as the county's top prosecutor. During that time, the Van Buren County Board of Supervisors believes Watkins has "engaged in willful misconduct or maladministration of office."

The county hired F. Montgomery Brown, an attorney from Des Moines, to file a petition to remove Watkins from office.  A judge appointed Brown as special prosecutor.

Watkins is accused in the petition of:

  • Creating a hostile work environment and/or constituting sexual harassment against more than one county employee and on multiple occasions.

“This conduct includes, but is not limited to, commenting on the appearance of a female employee’s breasts, inquiring and/or verbally speculating about an employee’s sexual health, appearing at work in the presence of female county employees wearing nothing below the waist except a pair of underwear (“briefs”), by displaying to a female employee photographs of a nude female, and by making other unwelcome and offensive comments of a sexual nature creating a hostile work environment.”

  • Accepting private employment in connection with a matter related to a previous criminal prosecution by the county attorney’s office.
  • Working while intoxicated, including appearing in trial in Iowa District Court while under the influence of alcohol.

Van Buren County wants Watkins to be removed from office and to be ordered to return all county property in his possession.

A hearing on the petition is scheduled for Oct. 21.