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Demonstration calls for investigation into Crow Wing Sheriff’s Office harassment complaint

About a dozen demonstrators lined Laurel Street in front of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office in downtown Brainerd Thursday, March 24.

People hold signs up along Laurel Street in front of the sheriff's office.
Demonstrators hold up signs calling for an investigation into harassment allegations by a sheriff's office employee Thursday, March 24, 2022, along Laurel Street in front of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Supportive car horns blasted as passersby gave thumbs up and peace signs to about a dozen demonstrators Thursday, March 24, in front of the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office in Brainerd.

“We just demand an investigation for the truth to be told. That’s all,” Ann Hunnicutt said while holding a bright green sign reading “Justice for the Victims.”

Other signs said “#MeToo,” “Stop abusing your power,” and called for Sheriff Scott Goddard and Chief Deputy Andy Galles — the department’s two top-ranking officials — to resign following accusations of the sheriff’s office’s failure to properly investigate allegations of sexual harrassment and abuse of authority by an employee.

Previous coverage
The complaint stated the employee used their position to attempt to solicit sexual favors from subordinates and community members and requested their immediate suspension and a third-party investigation.

Attorney Ed Shaw issued a news release Tuesday, March 22, alleging no meaningful investigation by the sheriff’s office or an independent agency occurred after a Feb. 23 complaint accused a sheriff’s office employee of multiple instances of misconduct. The complaint stated the employee used their position to attempt to solicit sexual favors from subordinates and community members and requested their immediate suspension and a third-party investigation.

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Shaw spoke on behalf of those at Thursday’s demonstration, including Hunnicutt and others who are clients of his representing the interests of those who said they faced harassment.

“They’ve been getting nowhere on their own, and I think what they and other people are here for is just, we need an outside investigation. There’s some pretty serious issues going on in the sheriff’s department, and they’re being essentially covered up. There’s no credible investigation being done as far as we can see,” Shaw said. “We need to have those behaviors stop, and we need to get an outside investigation to help make that happen.

“... The public and the people that work for the sheriff’s office need to trust their leadership, and they can’t right now.”

The Dispatch is withholding the identities of the accusers and the accused because they have not yet been reached for comment.

People hold signs up along Laurel Street in front of the sheriff's office.
Demonstrators hold up signs calling for an investigation into harassment allegations by a sheriff's office employee Thursday, March 24, 2022, along Laurel Street in front of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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