0

Sheriff's lawyers respond to accountant's claims

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill's lawyers let loose a battery of legal arguments, defending the sheriff against the allegations of a former accountant.

In a federal court answer to the accountant's lawsuit, filed Monday, the attorneys listed more than 30 legal defenses, including claims of immunity and accusations the woman caused her own problems.

Pamela Blasingim filed suit in June, claiming the county's first African-American sheriff discriminated against her because she was white. She alleges she was denied due process, that the sheriff attempted to obstruct justice by intimidating witnesses to a civil service case, and that the sheriff defamed her, distressed her and violated her constitutionally-protected rights.

Blasingim also used the law suit to outline allegations about alleged egregious misuses of money, a few weeks before the primary election, where Hill was facing four challengers.

She claims the sheriff looted money out of drug forfeiture and vending machine funds, spending the money without regard to law or policy.

Hill took 49 percent of the vote, in the primary election, and is headed into a runoff.

The sheriff's attorneys, led by John Strivarius, with Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson, struck back at Blasingim with Monday's answer.

"Any damages that [Blasingim] suffered were the direct and proximate result of her own actions and inactions," the 37-page document alleges. "Plaintiff's Complaint is barred by the doctrine of unclean hands."

Blasingim started working at the sheriff's office in 1990, and, according to her own account, did not leave the office as a "whistleblower," or in protest over the misuse of money, but continued to work for the sheriff for three years. She filed suit when she was abruptly demoted following a disagreement with the inmates' barber, who is allegedly a friend of the sheriff's.

The document denies most of Blasingim's particular claims about the sheriff's alleged racism and misuse of money. The document denies Hill knew anything about other particular claims, and describes everything else as either irrelevant or inconsequential.

The case was moving forward with notices of appearances, on Wednesday, and will now move into the long process of motions, rulings and appeals.