Humboldt County employee alleges sexual harassment from Sheriff, files civil suit

By Alex Benzegala, [email protected]

Humboldt, IA – The longtime E911 Database manager for Humboldt County Cherese Sexe has filed a civil suit against Humboldt County and Sheriff Dean Kruger among others, alleging sexual harassment and sexual discrimination on the part of Kruger among other allegations.

KHBT News located a copy of the suit, a 42-page document located at the Humboldt County Courthouse Court of Clerk’s Office which was filed December 29. 2021 in Humboldt County District Court. The document names the following as defendants in the civil suit: Humboldt County 911 service board, Humboldt County, IA, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, and the Humboldt County Law enforcement center board. Individual defendants are Dean Kruger, and the 5 members of the 911 Service Board’s executive committee Taylor Kunert, Cory Lampe, Joel Sanders, Dan Scholl and Erik Underberg. The five members of the executive committee are mayors or other appointed officials in the county.

Sexe’s allegations in the suit include that she was discriminated against and retaliated against in violation of the Iowa Civil Right Act Iowa Code Chapter 14 216 by the 911 Service board, and the executive committee and its members. The Suit alleges that the defendants violated chapter 21 of the Iowa Code and were part of an illegal civil conspiracy and that the defendants tortiously interfered with her employment. 

Sexe was hired by Humboldt County on June 2, 1997, as the 911 database manager and remains in the position. The court filing claims that Sexe had a positive relationship with Sheriff Kruger until she began to experience problems with the dispatchers working under Kruger and the Sheriff himself in May of 2000. Sexe says she asked the LEC board to make the communications center smoke free because she was pregnant. The LEC board voted to disallow officers and deputies from smoking in the communications center and decided to only allow dispatchers on duty to smoke in the adjoining bathroom. Sexe claims that a couple of days later she found a newspaper cartoon on the wall of the communications center displaying a man in a court room saying, “I only wanted to have a cigarette but now I’m being accused of Murder” She also claims that a sign appeared on the bathroom door that read “dispatchers only” that was directed towards her because she was the only woman employee using the bathroom at the time.

The suit goes on to further outline a long history of alleged sexual harassment by Kruger and multiple investigations that reported that there was no evidence of sexual harassment from Kruger. As for the suit, Sexe is asking to be awarded back pay and benefits along with compensatory damages for emotion pain, mental anguish, suffering and inconvenience. Sexe is being represented by Megan Flynn of West Des Moines and is asking for a jury trial. Humboldt County is being represented by Hugh J. Cain of Des Moines. KHBT News contacted Sexe and the defendants, but they were unavailable for comment. This is a developing story, KHBT will have more details as they become available, and the full 42-page suit is available at the Humboldt County Courthouse Court of Clerk’s Office.