Lawsuit alleges Vanderburgh County prosecutor of sexual misconduct

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – A former employee of Nick Hermann has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the Vanderburgh County prosecutor of sexual harassment and battery.

On Friday, February 7 former employee of the Vanderburgh County prosecutor’s office Samantha Merideth filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Hermann.

This lawsuit is in relation to an allegation Meredith first made against Hermann in May 2019. The suit claims at Hermann’s request Merideth attended a work conference in Chicago in 2013 where he made numerous unwanted sexual advances, handcuffed Merideth, openly displayed his handgun and threw her over his shoulder to prevent her from leaving the room.

The lawsuit claims upon returning to work, Merideth was subjected to defamatory rumors, a hostile work environment, and retaliation.

Of the multiple counts filed in the complaint, four counts are filed against Hermann individually, including sexual battery, battery, and sexual assault. Additional counts are filed against the State of Indiana and Vanderburgh County.

On Tuesday, Hermann’s office released a statement to Eyewitness News in response to the lawsuit.

“We were made aware today that Danks & Danks filed suit in federal court on behalf of a former employee. This allegation was previously investigated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Following the investigation, the EEOC issued a dismissal of the claim on Nov 12, 2019. As this is an ongoing legal matter, our office will have no further public comment.”

In May 2019, Evansville Police also released a statement regarding the allegations against Hermann.

Police say the alleged incident happened in Chicago in 2013 and were not filed with a law enforcement agency. They say two of their officers attended the conference listed in the complaint but were not present during the alleged incident.

The full complaint filed can be found below:

“This lawsuit is the culmination of many things that happen to Samantha Merideth,” Brandon Danks says.

Almost a year after Merideth went public with her claims she has filed a lawsuit against her former boss, Nick Hermann. She claims Hermann sexually assaulted her at a business conference in Chicago in 2013. She says the incident started after she and Hermann had a drink at a Chicago bar.

“She tries to go back to her room, he says no you have to come back to my room with me and have another drink. She says she didn’t want to again he says “I will not take no for an answer,” Danks explains.

Merideth says while she was in Hermann’s room he told her she was “hot” and that if he “had a shot” he would “take it”. The document also says Hermann put handcuffs on her, twice, and pulled out his gun and set it on a desk.

That’s when Merideth says she tried to leave but Hermann wouldn’t let her. First blocking the door then throwing her over his shoulder and setting her down in a chair.

The complaint goes on to say when Merideth returned to work rumors started about the two of them sleeping together.

“Nicholas Hermann was aware of it and did nothing to dispel the rumors,” Danks continues.

Merideth’s lawyer says she was forced to resign from her position in January of 2019.

“She had learned while there that there was another victim within that office and that person did go to the EEOC,” Danks says.

The EEOC investigated the claim speaking with both Merideth and Hermann.

“I would hardly call it an investigation. What we did was you file your charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Nick Herman had an opportunity to give a position statement of his account to which I don’t think he denied any of those things that happened in Chicago or anything like that. He just denied the context in which we are showing it as which is no matter how you look at it is inappropriate,” he explains.

Evansville Police said it happened in Chicago and nothing was filed with police. Danks says Merideth complained to Hermann the next day. the official complaint says Hermann apologized that Merideth “took it that way.”

It also says she confided in the two EPD detectives that were also on the trip.

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(This story was originally published on February 11, 2020)

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