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Harassment, retaliation case settled

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

Former Huntington County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hakes and chief probation officer Heather Malone reached a settlement for a case in which Malone alleges Hakes lead “a campaign of sex-based harassment, discrimination, and retaliation,” against her, according to federal court documents filed on Oct. 30. 

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but the tentative agreement is pending approval from the Attorney General’s Office and the Governor’s Office. If approved, the case will be dismissed. 

In the complaint, Malone alleged that between 2016 and 2017, Hakes obsessively messaged her, often without reply, with unwanted advances and allegedly threatened to fire her if she formally accused her of sexual harassment. In the messages submitted for evidence, Hakes would drive by Malone’s home and message her about his observations. 

Hakes admitted to knowing that he needed to stop messaging Malone and eventually agreed to stop messaging and calling her after work hours after she told him to stop, according to evidence filed with the case, but he continued to message her outside of work, sometimes as late at 3 a.m.

After Malone blocked Hakes, she claimed that Hakes would tell other probation officers not to listen to her, he recommended she not receive a raise and refused to hire probation officers as to limit her pay, according to court documents. Malone stated that she suffered fear, severe stress and loss of reputation in the workplace because of the sex discrimination she endured and the “hostile and oppressive workplace environment.”

Hakes stepped down from his position in 2017. Malone is still chief probation officer in Huntington County.