Fairfield County Prosecutor Answers Harassment Allegations With Office Shake-Up

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A central Ohio prosecutor accused of sexual harassment and mismanagement of his office is answering his accusers.

Earlier this week, 10TV reported on accusations of inappropriate comments and behavior in the office of Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx.

Friday Marx announced changes, including the resignation of Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Hunter.

Before announcing the changes, a defiant Marx sat down with 10TV to answer the allegations.

Gregg Marx has been prosecuting felony cases for more than 30 years.

This week the Fairfield County Prosecutor found himself on the defense, after reports emerged of multiple employees alleging misconduct in his office.

"It wasn't like meeting up with somebody in a dark coat closet and fondling them,” said of the women leveling the accusations. “It wasn't like that. It was these off-hand remarks that were inappropriate."

Two women, both of whom have worked for Marx, spoke to 10TV on the condition of anonymity.

They say some of the harassment they witnessed and endured was overt, some was subtle.

But they say the result was no less harmful.

"One of my coworkers had to wear bandages on her hands because she was so anxious and depressed that she literally rubbed the skin off the top of her hands and her wrists, because of the mental strain of working there. Not because of something else, because of working there."

Marx denies doing anything wrong.

"People can say anything. If you're not subject to cross examination, you can say any word you want.”

“If you get enough people saying the same thing, and telling the same story, don't you have to give that some serious consideration?” asked 10tvreporter Glenn McEntyre.

“Responsible journalists wouldn't,” Marx answered.

Fairfield County Human Resources records obtained by 10TV detail accusations from five different women who've worked for Marx.

Many of the claims are directed at Marx's Chief Criminal Prosecutor Jeff Hunter.

One employee said, "I wouldn't have wanted to be in a closed room with him." 

She said once Hunter "thanked me for being his secretary, shook my hand, and kissed me on the top of my head." 

At first, she said it struck her as "weird," but later she realized, "that's inappropriate. It shouldn't have been done."

Another told HR that Hunter told her of a former receptionist "and about how he liked her because she took nude pictures when she went on vacation and came back and showed him." 

A third employee said he informed her he'd recommended her for a raise, then immediately asked her to meet him alone outside of the office, an allegation Hunter denied to HR.

On another occasion, the same woman said Hunter texted her "It's Bill Cosby. I'd like to pour you a drink." 

Hunter told HR the text was "a joke," calling it "innocuous."

"I would never permit anyone in my office to mistreat anyone,” said Marx. “And if I felt that there was some mistreatment going on, I would investigate that.”

“Your employees say that's just not the case,” said McEntyre.

“I think the people you're referring to are former employees, that all are good friends. Some may even work together. They're disgruntled; their files are papered with discipline."

One employee leveled harassment accusations directly at Marx himself.

She told Human Resources that after returning from a cruise with his wife, Marx told her, "Next time we ought to see if...I can take you. I don't know if (my wife) would like that. Maybe we won't take (her)."

In another incident, she says Marx told her, "I'm not so sure if we were both single, I wouldn't just sweep you up and marry you."

"Absolutely not,” Marx said. 

“She’s lying?” asked McEntyre.

“On that.” Marx responded.

10TV spoke with a former employee of Marx’s office who said "I have nothing bad to say about Gregg Marx," yet when told of the comments attributed to him, sad, “I can see him saying that, but I don't think he knows what he's saying is bad.”

“Everyone can use help in training on words to use when you talk to people,” admitted Marx. “I never would deliberately make any offer to anyone. That's frankly ludicrous."

“So all of these women are liars?” asked McEntyre.

“I don't know every single thing they've said, but the allegation about me is absolutely not true. Mr. Hunter has told me the allegations about him are absolutely not true."

In September, the Fairfield County Human Resources Director alerted Marx to "significant concerns raised by several employees" and recommended an outside review of the allegations.

Fairfield County Commissioners supported that recommendation and offered to pay for it, but because Marx is elected, they have no power to force an independent assessment.

Marx says an investigation paid for by the County wouldn't be objective.

"Sexual harassment is a serious problem. If it exists in this office or any other office, that is something that needs to be looked into,” he said. “However, these complaints are politically motivated.”

“Are you suggesting that the women are working in some way with the Commissioners?” asked McEntyre.

“They're working with someone," Marx answered.

10TV spoke to Fairfield County Commissioner Steve Davis about that accusation.

He said the County Commissioners "are just doing our job, and we can't address any unfounded concerns" that Marx might have.

As for Marx's statement about his accusers having lengthy disciplinary records, 10TV has requested to review the personnel files of those employees.

Marx's office is still in the process of preparing them for us to look at.

Friday, in addition to announcing the resignation of Hunter, Marx said he will allow an outside investigation, and is creating an office ombudsman position as an advocate for his employees.

Friday afternoon 10TV spoke by phone with Jeff Hunter.

He said "I have never, ever, ever kissed anyone in the office on the hand, head, or anywhere. I've never done that on the job. I've never mistreated an employee ever."

He added that in his entire career, he had never had a complaint of any kind prior to this.

Marx issued a statement Friday afternoon detailing the changes he would be making to his office. You can view those points by clicking here.