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She Said St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin Harassed Her. Then He Fired Her

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The nickname that some local attorneys and county employees have given to Jerrod Mahurin, the prosecuting attorney of St. Francois County, isn't professional, and it certainly isn't nice: Douchebag McBully. But then again, these people say, neither is Mahurin.

Behind the nickname are allegations that stretch back years. People who have worked for the 38-year-old Democratic elected office holder say he has created a toxic atmosphere in the prosecutor's office, especially for female employees. Lisa Davidson, a longtime secretary in Mahurin's office, says that not only did Mahurin show her a picture of a penis, but that another employee, also a secretary, showed her a different penis photo with contact info on her phone suggesting it came from Mahurin.

It's not just Davidson. Another former employee interviewed for this story also says Mahurin has made suggestive remarks about his female employees' bodies and commented on their sex lives. In some cases, the atmosphere spilled into areas outside the office. During an overnight training session in 2014, Davidson says Mahurin took a group of female secretaries to a strip club and asked them to keep their hotel doors unlocked. A secretary later confided to the former employee that the clerical staff decided to stop attending the training sessions because of his behavior. (Mahurin denies each allegation.)

The allegations go beyond sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. People who have found themselves in Mahurin's crosshairs — a group that includes not only secretaries but also a Farmington police officer and the former county auditor — say he wields his office's power to exact favoritism and enact retribution. Mahurin's six-year tenure as prosecutor has left St. Francois County divided: There are those on his good side, and everybody else.

About an hour's drive south from St. Louis, the county is mostly rolling farmland and rural townships, and like any small town, the rumor mill plays an important social role. Everyone talks to (or about) everyone. The county seat, Farmington, is its largest city, with around 18,000 residents, and for the lawyers and county employees who pass through the downtown courthouse, it is truly a small pond. That smallness has kept the mill churning.

At the same time, it's also worked to Mahurin's advantage. The prosecutor is a big fish here, and Mahurin has gained an intimidating reputation. Citing Mahurin's powerful position, some of the sources who spoke to the RFT did so on the condition of anonymity. These sources say they fear what he's capable of.

"He's so vindictive," a local attorney says. "Like the mafia."

Davidson says she's choosing to speak out as a whistleblower after years of concern over Mahurin's behavior. "Things are getting worse," she says.

When Davidson first agreed to speak to the RFT, she requested anonymity, citing similar concerns as other people interviewed in this story. She said that she suspected Mahurin was retaliating against her for not reciprocating his advances or responding favorably to his suggestive remarks, and that her job duties were being improperly restricted. In late March, she filed a formal discrimination complaint against Mahurin, but even then, she didn't want to risk losing the job she'd held for the last eighteen years.

On June 12, Mahurin agreed to sit down with the RFT for an interview, during which he repeatedly denied the allegations against him. The next day, Mahurin called Davidson into his office and fired her.