Job Market Blues


Bad Job Market Blues
So bad you'd put up with an (allegedly) masturbating boss?

By Chris Vogel


sexual harassment at work

How many times does your boss have to masturbate on or around you before you quit your job?

(Before you answer, remember, these are troubled times. Employment rates are tumbling and it could take months, even years, to get another gig. Especially one with health benefits.)

For Shanna Vonfeldt, the answer to the question turned out to be five times, according to a lawsuit she recently filed against her former boss in Beaumont. Over a seven-month period, she claims in Jefferson County District Court, Kyle Knupple, owner of KUSA Aviation, made repeated suggestive comments and touched her inappropriately in addition to masturbating on or around her those five times before she finally put her foot down, telling Knupple that she was sick and tired of his alleged behavior.

She says she needed the job as the company's office manager to support her and her two daughters and could not afford to quit. So she didn't, but was eventually fired for telling a co-worker about Knupple's alleged sexual behavior, the lawsuit states.

Knupple told Hair Balls that he has no comment on the matter.

If you like tales of masturbating at high altitudes and jerking off into a trash can, read on. Here are some of the details spelled out in the lawsuit. (It comes with a big green Mr. Yuk warning sticker):

It all allegedly started just after Hurricane Ike plowed into Texas in September 2008, after which all of Knupple's employees were living in the airplane hangar. One night, Vonfeldt claims, she woke up to the sight of Knupple near her bed, staring at her, masturbating. She claims she was too afraid to say anything about it.

"Alone and frightened," the lawsuit states, Vonfeldt "could not think of anything to do or any option other than to pretend to remain asleep until Knupple finished what he was doing and left the room."

Three weeks later, Vonfeldt claims, Knupple called her into his office, where he was allegedly watching pornography on his computer while rubbing his crotch. Knupple then supposedly told Vonfeldt that he was "horny," and then asked if she would watch him play with himself because it "turned him on." A client then entered the office, enabling Vonfeldt to leave.

But she did not get away. A few days later, she claims, Knupple again asked her to come into his office while he was watching porn and jerking off. Knupple allegedly asked Vonfeldt to step closer toward him so he could smell her. Vonfeldt says she told Knupple she was very uncomfortable and asked how he could act like this with photos of his wife and daughters on his wall. She claims he responded, "It's not cheating if it's not sex."

Several months later, in February 2009, Vonfeldt claims she was required to go along with Knupple on a test flight. Once the two were high in the air, she says, Knupple began fondling himself and asking her to show her breast. When she did not, he became "angrier and louder with each request," according to the lawsuit. "Fearful of losing her job and wanting to get back onto the ground, [Vonfeldt] showed one breast to Knupple, asked if he was satisfied and asked him to please land the plane."

Knupple was apparently not quite satisfied.

"Knupple suddenly grabbed [Vonfeldt's] hand and pulled it against his penis as he ejaculated on it. Knupple then landed the plane and [Vonfeldt] immediately left work."

Another two months passed by, when lo and behold, Vonfeldt claims, Knupple again allegedly asked her to come into his office. You guessed it: She says he was watching porn and fiddling with himself.

According to the lawsuit, "As Knupple ejaculated into his trash can, [Vonfeldt] became extremely upset and sick to her stomach, asked, 'Are we done?' and left his office."

Days later, Vonfeldt claims she had finally had enough. She says she told Knupple that she was tired of it all, to which Knupple said she could quit. But Vonfeldt says she needed the job and the benefits to support her kids and told him she would not quit. It all became moot two months later, however, when Knupple fired her for allegedly complaining about Knupple's sexual activities to a co-worker, according to the lawsuit.

She is suing Knupple and his company for intentional emotional distress and assault by offensive physical contact. Vonfeldt's attorney did not return several phone calls by Hair Balls.

There's another Kyle Knupple, by the way; he's a doctor in Galveston. He is not the one being sued.


Texas Youth Prisons Among Worst for Rape
We're sure something will be done about it

By Paul Knight

The Texas Youth Commission can't seem to stop its staff members from raping young inmates locked up at state facilities, according to a recently released federal report that paints the state agency as one of the worst in the country.

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted the investigation, as required by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, "to carry out a comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidents and effects of prison rape for each calendar year." According to the report, two of the 12 state institutions run by the Texas Youth Commission are among the worst facilities for sexual assault of inmates.

"It's a very important study, and the data is certainly something that makes us go, 'Wow, let's take a look at this deeper,'" Jim Hurley, a spokesman with TYC, tells Hair Balls. "But because it's unverifiable and can't be confirmed, we have to be careful what we do."

The Texas kids were surveyed for the report in mid-2008, answering questions that pertained to their time in TYC from that point to a year earlier. Hurley says that since that time, the youth commission has already implemented new policies and safety measures to cut back on sexual abuse.

Those reforms include installing video cameras in the facilities, as well as providing phones for kids to make reports. The intake process also includes questions to identify inmates who are vulnerable to sexual abuse, as well as identifying kids who might be sexual predators, Hurley says.

Those reforms were kicked off by a scandal that made national news during the early months of 2007. Young inmates at TYC's West Texas State School had been making claims of sexual assault for years, resulting in an investigation by the Texas Rangers that found that 13 boys had been molested, being "taken to darkened conference rooms, offices and ball fields for sex with two of the institution's top administrators," according to a 2007 Associated Press article.

Even more troubling, if that's possible, after TYC officials found out about the abuse, the two top administrators who had been raping young inmates were simply allowed to resign with no criminal charges. One of the men took a job at another school after he resigned.

Hurley says things have changed since then. "Just having a reporting mechanism [for sexual assault claims] is new in TYC since 2007," he says.

But the recently released federal report says otherwise. The Corsicana Residential Treatment Center, where mentally ill youth offenders are housed, was the second worst in the country, with 32 percent of the inmates reporting sexual assault by other inmates or staff. The Victory Field Correctional Academy in Vernon — about 190 miles northwest of Dallas — was the third worst, with 25 percent reporting sexual assault. Each incident involved a staff member at Victory Field.

And at the youth prison closest to Houston, the Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Beaumont, about 15 percent of the inmates reported being sexually assaulted. That's still worse than the national average, which is 12 percent.

Because of the report, Hurley says, TYC intends to re-survey the inmates at Corsicana and Victory Field, allowing groups who advocate for kids in the system to oversee the questioning process.

"We want to make sure the reforms we've implemented during this time are actually working," Hurley says. "It's something we want to do quickly."


The Real Reasons Spider-Man 4 Won't Happen

By Pete Vonder Haar

I imagine most of you are aware of the sad news by now, but just in case you hadn’t heard, Spider-Man 4 isn’t happening. The official story points to "script issues," but I think other factors were at play.


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