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Councilman: Sexual harassment suit was ‘retaliation’ for not supporting new jail

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Boone County councilman calls a lawsuit against him a “deliberate and unlawful scheme to destroy” his career and reputation for not supporting the county’s plan for a new jail.

The allegation is part of new federal court filings Tuesday by Aaron Williams.

Williams claims in court documents that Tom Santelli, president of the County Commission, and Megan Smith, human resources director for Boone County, conspired “to create a story of lies designed to defame and harm” his reputation.

Smith filed a sexual harassment suit against Williams and Boone County in July, claiming sexual harassment and retaliation.

In the new court filing, Williams called the allegations “unequivocally and undoubtedly 100% false” and motivated by Williams’ refusal to Boone County’s proposed new jail project.

“Such political attacks and tactics have become far too common in today’s political arena and must stop,” Williams said in the court filing. “And, those responsible for these improper and unlawful political games must be held accountable for their illegal actions in seeking to harm a person’s reputation simply because of disagreements over government and/or politics.”

Williams also filed suit against Santelli, accusing him on defamation and invasion of privacy.

Williams’ lawsuit specifically claims the county commission president “concocted a false and defamatory set of lies” and spread them to other county officials and the media.

A statement from a Boone County Commission spokesperson said, “The Commissioners are aware of the recent filings in court regarding a personnel matter. At this time, the Commissioners have no comment on the pending litigation.”

Williams, the first African American elected to a Boone County office, is seeking unspecified amounts of punitive and compensatory damages.