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Texas DA Accused Of Sexually Harassing Prosecutor

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File photo of a judge's gavel. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a judge’s gavel. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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A North Texas county has paid $375,000 to a former prosecutor to settle her claim that she was sexually harassed by its district attorney, according to records released late Friday.

Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon, 72, was accused by ex-prosecutor Sabrina Sabin of harassment that went on for “a long period of time” and included graphic sexual comments. Sabin, 44, also said she feared retaliation.

Shannon “would constantly make comments about my breasts and tell me he would like to see them, touch them,” Sabin wrote in a lengthy handwritten document. “He would say things like, ‘If you ever decide to surprise me and show them to me, no one has to know.’”

Shannon denied the accusations in a written statement and said he didn’t agree to the payment.

“An objective review of the documents will clearly demonstrate what I have said all along — there are two sides to this controversy,” he said. “The claims have been vigorously denied and disputed.”

The county said in a statement that it engaged outside counsel to investigate the allegations and entered into mediation with Sabin at the end of the inquiry to resolve the matter.

The county determined it was in taxpayers’ best interest to settle the case because “the cost of litigation would far exceed the cost of a proposed settlement,” according to the statement.

Last September, the county agreed to pay Sabin. But officials declined media requests to make case documents public until Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ordered the county to do so on Jan. 9.

Sabin said her position in the DA’s office became “uncomfortable and at times unbearable and stressful” when she worked directly for Shannon in his previous role as the head of the economic crimes unit. She said she feared she would lose her job or Shannon would make her life “miserable” if she made an issue out of the behavior.

In his statement, Shannon said he realized the county viewed the settlement with Sabin as a “business” decision.

“That is its prerogative and I respect its right to this view, even though I disagreed,” he said.

Tarrant County is Texas’ third largest county with a population of more than 1.4 million.

Shannon joined the DA’s office in 1972 and was appointed to replace longtime DA Tim Curry after Curry’s death in May 2009. He was elected to the post in 2010.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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