published Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Complaint: Murray commissioner sexually assaulted, harassed worker

  • photo
    File photo of former Murray County Commissioner David Ridley.
    Staff File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

DALTON, Ga. — A federal complaint filed against former Murray County Commissioner David Ridley alleges that he forced a county employee to commit sex acts and viewed pornography on her computer.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press obtained a copy of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed March 16.

The complaint alleges the sexual harassment began in February 2010, when the woman said Ridley forced her to perform oral sex. The harassment continued for a year, the document said.

Ridley, who took office as sole commissioner in January 2009, turned in a letter of resignation March 28. The letter said the job’s strenuous requirements made him neglect important family and business matters.

Ridley has not responded to several messages left on his cell phone since his resignation. On Wednesday, a recording said his number no longer was in service.

Interim Sole Commissioner and County Manager Tom Starnes declined to discuss the complaint on Wednesday, citing the ongoing legal action.

The county was notified of the EEOC complaint on April 6, and Starnes said that was the first he had heard of it.

In the days after Ridley’s resignation, Starnes said he was not aware of any legal action against Ridley.

Murray County Attorney Greg Kinnamon said lawyers for the county’s insurance company are handling the complaint and the county’s response. The first he heard about the complaint was when the woman’s attorneys came to him after it was filed, Kinnamon said.

According to the complaint, Ridley talked to the woman about sexual acts, reached up her skirt, put his hand down the front of her pants, asked her to perform sexual acts and rubbed his hand down her leg and over other parts of her body.

The complaint provides explicit details about more than a dozen alleged comments and acts, including Ridley telling the woman he planned to get her a stripper for Valentine’s Day and saying she should get cleaning supplies and a maid skirt because she is good at cleaning.

Ridley also viewed pornography from two different websites on the woman’s computer, the complaint states.

Ridley’s acts “created a work environment that suppressed anyone from complaining of the actions,” the complaint states, and “were designed to suppress women in the office, to create an atmosphere of fear, to create an atmosphere of dominance and sexual dominance and to prevent any complaints to any other outside source.”

The complaint accuses Ridley of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Murray County sexual harassment policy.

A Murray County ordinance passed in 1997 prohibits sexual harassment, and the county has a policy against viewing obscene material on the county’s Internet system.

The complaint is signed by the woman and attorney McCracken “Ken” Poston, who confirmed Wednesday that he signed it. He and attorney Stuart James represent the woman, Poston said.

Poston declined to comment about the complaint or whether the woman had complained to county officials before going to the EEOC.

Murray County District Attorney General Kermit McManus said his office has not been asked to investigate or been informed of any criminal charges against Ridley.

In his resignation letter, Ridley said his decision to resign as sole commissioner was voluntary. The full-time position pays $98,174 a year.

“[D]ue to the strenuous requirements of the job, I have neglected certain other important family and business matters,” the letter states. “I sincerely hope that each of you will honor my decision as it was my voluntary decision and the best decision for me and my family.”

The county will hold a special election June 21 to replace Ridley.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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Legend said...

He submitted a letter of resignation in 2009 and the alleged harassment began in 2010?

April 14, 2011 at 10:18 a.m.
ampankey said...

I have personally known David most of my life and I find this information to be totally unbelievable and I see no possible way that this compliant could be true. David has always been a professional person and someone that anyone in this county could go to if they needed help with something and he would do all that he could to answer question and get things resolved. This is the most ridicilous thing that I have ever heard and all this is going to do is ruin his future career and personal life. I hope it comes back to bite whoever made these complaints because karma will get you sooner or later.

April 14, 2011 at 1:46 p.m.
lhartline said...

Legand, he was voted into office in 2009, the harassment (allegedly) began in 2010 and he resigned March 2011.

April 14, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.
JazmineGA said...

ampankey... worse monsters have stood behind stronger facades.

April 14, 2011 at 6:24 p.m.

Wonder if he resigned since he knew the charges against him were coming. Seems rather strange that a man would leave an almost six figure job so abruptly. Then again if he did fool around with a "strange" female, he knows what is in store. I can't believe anyone serving in Murray County is worth much over twenty thousand dollars a year. He's just a politician, nothing else.

April 14, 2011 at 8:06 p.m.
chet123 said...

DAVID RIDLEY...may be guilty of very unethical behavior....and bad judgemet,,,and terrible morals....i've never met the man nor the so called victim...but i will say this....unless he held a gun to her head 24hr a day....or a knife to her heart 24hr a day....she was a willing participate....and enjoyed it(if it went on for month)..i will say she Orchestrated it by leading Ridley on...I have worked on jobs where a lot of hanky panky take place(about 90%..marriage women are the worst)....if the guy dont submit to her with committment she blackmale withe reprisals....its an old game...But the man is presumed the aggressor...the media just want a story....so they report the initial lie.....this lady remind me of monica lewensky lol lol lol.....this was what she wanted.... if she was a child it would be difference....think he broke off relationship and she retailiated by going public.....MEN WHEN WILL YOU LEARN!!!

April 16, 2011 at 11:47 a.m.
chet123 said...

sounds like a gold-digger......

April 20, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.
chet123 said...

He did the clinton....he should have saw it coming....she baited him good...now she crying victim.......shes no victim...shame,shame,shame,shame on you as a woman....what could he had done...nothing....you know the mere mention would have destroyed this poor man

April 24, 2011 at 3:19 p.m.
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