"Duck Taco" Lawsuit
Deputy endured forced motorboating, suit says
By Richard Connelly
A former deputy to Galveston County Constable Pam Matranga has sued her, claiming she sexually harassed him by, among other things, pulling his head under her shirt and into her cleavage.
Forced motorboating!! Other allegations involve farts and some of the worst euphemisms for female genitalia we've heard.
Matranga says the former deputy, James Gist, is retaliating over losing his job and being investigated for bugging the constable offices. He says he did it to record the harassment. Matranga also says Gist asked her to improperly change a government document in his favor.
"An EX-employee has filed a complaint (now Law suit) with the EEOC...because I would not change a legal document in his favor," she said on her Facebook page.
She says she cannot address specific allegations in the suit, although she told the Galveston County Daily News, "I'm a jester, I am not a girlie girl...I think a lot of things have been taken out of context."
She also notes that the lawsuit was filed just days before the primary, where she faces a rare re-election challenge.
Among the allegations (and remember, they are only allegations):
5. Matranga "began joking with plaintiff about attending 'chunky chick night' at strip clubs in the area where [she] would have the opportunity to perform. Defendant Matranga proceeded to lift one leg over the arm of plaintiff's chair and began making gyrating motions with her hips, while placing her hands at the top of plaintiff's chair, mimicking how a topless dancer would perform a lap dance at a strip club."
4. She "walked into plaintiff's office and stated, 'I spilled some Coke on my canooki.' As [she] made circular motions around her vaginal area, [she ] asked plaintiff with [another deputy] if either of them 'wanted to have some of it?'"
3. Gist said he was sitting near Matranga at her desk when he dropped his pen and bent down to pick it up. "When he did so, defendant Matranga said, 'While you're down there, why don't you help yourself to some 'duck taco'?"
2. When she allowed Gist to work an extra job, she said she should get something in return. She "then parted her legs, made a puckered-lips facial expression with raised eyebrows and used her hands to begin rubbing her inner thighs near her vagina."
1. And..."Defendant Matranga, while standing in the doorway of her office, deliberately farted and looked at plaintiff while rubbing the clothing area covering her vagina and stated, 'Why can't I get a man?'"
Gist is suing for unspecified monetary damages.
Is TDCJ Firing People for Their Facebook Friends?
By Craig Malisow
Some employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are accusing wardens of disciplining, and in some cases firing, them for having Facebook friends with criminal records.
Duane Stuart, who runs a private TDCJ employee forum, thebackgate.org, tells Hair Balls that wardens regularly inspect employees' profiles, asking employees for their passwords if their profiles are set to private.
Stuart and Lance Lowry, a representative of the employees' union, believe TDCJ is using Facebook to intimidate employees who have been critical of it in the past.
In an e-mail to Senator John Whitmire, chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Lowry accuses TDCJ officials of censoring "employee organizing activities" and "prohibiting them from networking with one another on Facebook" and other social media.
"The agency has terminated several employees for Facebook activities, under the [excuse] they are jeopardizing the security of the institution," Lowry claims in the e-mail.
Department spokesman Jason Clark told Hair Balls that officials are not asking for passwords, and are not even asking employees to disclose any online friendships with former offenders or parolees.
"I'm not certain where that's coming from..." he tells Hair Balls. He did say that officials have asked employees to be more selective in choosing Facebook friends.
"Sometimes those relationships, whether they be on purpose or inadvertently, can jeopardize — or has the potential to jeopardize — the security of the agency, or compromise the effectiveness of the employee," he says.
But Stuart tells Hair Balls in an e-mail that he witnessed a warden monitor an employee's Facebook profile, "looking for information on possible violations." He claims that wardens "browse the open accounts looking at pictures, an employee's friends list or any indication of the employee doing drugs, etc., or being involved in criminal acts. If they cannot get in due to you having your account password protected, they will ask you for it. If you waver on handing it over and they feel you are hiding something, they will then demand it."
Failure to comply will result in disciplinary actions, Stuart claims.
He says employees are also being disciplined for having Facebook friends with criminal records they weren't even aware of.
"We see upwards of 25-30 of these e-mails on a daily basis," he writes.
He claims this also includes friends of friends, explaining that one employee's wife (who was on his friends list) had a friend who was once incarcerated in TDCJ. (In that case, Stuart claims, the employee only received a scolding.)
Many employees are now posting disclaimers, asking any friends with TDCJ records to remove themselves. But if a friend doesn't abide by that request, the employee is still on the hook, Stuart says. Stuart also says TDCJ's media office ignored his request, two weeks ago, for a statement on the social media issue.
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Clark tells Hair Balls that an employee's social media profile is only an issue if that person is already the subject of an investigation; TDCJ has long prohibited relationships between employees and offenders.
"For example, an offender gets out from a particular facility. Shortly thereafter, one of the correctional officers or staff there...friends that person on Facebook or starts corresponding back and forth with that person, that...would be an issue," Clark says. In these types of cases, officials are usually tipped off by intelligence officers at each unit, he explains, and, if necessary, officials would check the suspected employee's online profiles. But the investigation wouldn't begin with monitoring profiles.
However, according to Lowry, at least one employee has been fired for less. He says a prison chaplain was recently terminated after posting pics of inmates participating in a chaplaincy (rehabilitation) program, even though the pics had already been cleared. He believes the chaplain was targeted because he's "rocked the boat" by openly disagreeing with certain TDCJ policies.
Lowry also says the unwritten Facebook policy runs counter to the fact that "there are plenty of employees who have family members who are incarcerated. This is in no way a danger to the institution." He says he plans to bring these concerns to the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission next month.