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Tue, April 23

Attorney general's office won't intervene in complaints against Buster Johnson

The Arizona Attorney General's Office will steer clear of the sexual harassment investigation of a Mohave County supervisor and a county official's claim that he was retaliated against by the supervisor.

The supervisor, Buster Johnson, has denied acts of retaliation.

Johnson said he recorded videotape of one of his two female accusers and the county's human resources director to show the two were having an improper relationship.

Geoff Riches, the county's human resources director, said Thursday the Attorney General's Office informed him by letter Wednesday that it would not take action against Johnson because Riches is a white male and not in a "protected class."

Riches said he filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office on June 5, alleging Johnson, the District 3 supervisor, retaliated against him in response to a six-week sexual harassment probe in early 2002.

Riches' investigation determined Johnson sexually harassed two female employees.

The investigation concluded in April 2002.

Riches said retaliation by Johnson also included personal attacks during a talk radio program.

Riches said Johnson admitted that he and a private investigator had videotaped Riches and Johnson's former office clerk, Kelly McMahon, one of the two women who lodged harassment complaints.

"I guessed in my mind the Attorney General's Office would look into this matter of retaliation," Riches said.

"There should be recourses within the state of Arizona for someone like myself who is being retaliated against."

Attorney General spokeswoman Dianna Jennings could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Johnson has denied that he harassed McMahon or former administrative assistant Marisa Tusa.

"Most of the time all I am doing is responding to media questions," he said.

Johnson said he produced the videotape in October 2002 to prove that Riches and McMahon were having an improper relationship.

Riches confirmed that he has a relationship with McMahon but said it started after the sexual harassment probe concluded.

The two women filed separate civil rights complaints with the Attorney General's Office earlier this month alleging Johnson violated their civil rights.

Tusa cited "the harassment, my house being watched.

People around me that are close to me being followed.

"(Crank) phone calls.


She said the Attorney General's Office informed her that it would not handle the complaint because of an agreement with the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission to resolve those kinds of complaints.

Both Tusa and McMahon said they filed complaints with the EEOC, which investigates workplace discrimination, following the county's investigation.

McMahon said Thursday that she has not received a response from the Attorney General's Office.

"I have not seen that letter, but they did indicate to us that they were waiting for EEOC to come back with their findings," she said.

In a separate matter, McMahon lost her bid Thursday in Justice Court in Lake Havasu City to retain an order of harassment against Johnson, which she had sought after learning recently about the videotapes.

Associate Magistrate Nelson Meringola rescinded the order that she had obtained June 10.

"I understood that he rescinded it because he did not believe that I was being threatened, but the reasons that Buster gave were not valid," McMahon said.

She said Johnson expressed concerns in the courtroom that she would have used the order of harassment to prevent him from entering her place of work, the county library branch in Lake Havasu City.

Johnson said, "I never thought there was a need for (an order) before.

Obviously, the judge agrees."

Responding to lawsuit threats from Johnson's attorney, County Manager Ron Walker released more than 200 pages of documents from the investigation May 28.

Walker defended the internal investigation and added that Johnson attacked Riches because he was the messenger.

"We stand behind the professionalism and validity of the investigation, and it was an administrative investigation as it relates to county policies," Walker said.


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