Ward County Deputy Timothy Poston speaks out

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MINOT N.D. - "Right now I'm forced back to work in a hostile work environment, under the sheriff," said Deputy Timothy Poston.

The Ward County Sheriff's deputy filed two complaints. One for discrimination in September, the other for sexual harassment the month before.

In one investigation by an outside legal counsel, Poston says Sheriff Barnard created a hostile work environment and discriminated against him because of his Canadian citizenship.

But, the investigator concluded there was no indication that Barnard discriminated against Poston.

In the other investigation, Poston claims State's Attorney Roza Larson placed her hand on his thigh, and at a later date made a reference to fuzzy handcuffs.

That investigation concluded that, "neither incident, when viewed from the standpoint of a reasonable person, is sufficiently severe
or pervasive enough to create a hostile working environment."

Deputy Poston disagrees.

"Had the man placed his hand on a woman's leg there, that would be considered sexual harassment. Had the man made reference to fuzzy handcuffs to a woman, that would be sexual harassment," said Poston.

The department had reprimanded Poston prior to all of this. He was suspended for five days for an earlier incident between him and an inmate in the jail.

"There was an inmate sitting at the end of an eight foot table. He kept trying to disrupt the court and was pushing the table into myself. After being warned to stop pushing the table into me I stood up and by the video you can see the table was pushed about six to eight inches into the inmate but did not cause any injury," said Poston.

The Burleigh County State's Attorney's office investigated the incident and ruled that no criminal charges be filed. Poston says he believes that and other incidents may have impacted how seriously his grievances were taken.

"He was suspended for this, and this and this, which are non-issues, are over with. This has nothing to do with the sexual harassment or discrimination claims," said Poston.

Poston, who made his complaints public at a County Commissioners' meeting last month, said he might bring it back to the Commission at their next meeting.

The county commission chair elected not to add Poston to next Tuesday's agenda.

We reached out to both State's Attorney Roza Larson and Sheriff Bob Barnard, along with an attorney speaking for both in this case.

Both Larson and Barnard said they would not comment at this time, under the advisement of the attorney.

We are waiting to hear back from the attorney.