Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Warren Co. judge's
alleged mistress fired



By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer

LEBANON - A Warren County judge's alleged mistress was fired from her court job Tuesday for unprofessional conduct and for using the court's computer for online college studies while claiming weekend overtime.

The dismissal of Libbie Gerondale comes six weeks after County Court Judge James Heath demoted the 34-year-old Morrow woman from probation officer to probation clerk amid controversy over her relationship with Judge Dallas Powers.

Powers, a 70-year-old married judge who had been Gerondale's supervisor, has remained on voluntary paid leave since late August when the first of five sexual-harassment allegations against him surfaced.

The complaints, being investigated by the Ohio attorney general, allege Powers sexually harassed other employees while giving Gerondale preferential treatment.

Gerondale has denied any special relationship with Powers. Neither she nor her attorney, Bill Kaufman, returned calls Tuesday.

Heath demoted Gerondale on Sept. 28 after unexcused absences from work.

In a letter to Kaufman, dated Tuesday, Heath outlined his reasons for Gerondale's termination.

He cited instances of disrespectful and unprofessional behavior.

Heath said that 16 times in June, Gerondale "clocked into work then used the court's computer to do work (toward) her college degree," mostly on Saturdays and Sundays, "while she was also being paid overtime."

Gerondale's overtime - 407 hours that led to an extra $9,000 pay in eight months - has been under investigators' scrutiny, officials say. But her lawyer has said the pay was earned legitimately.

Heath also cited instances of profanity-laden confrontations she initiated with him and other court employees.

Gerondale's outbursts sometimes happened in front of offenders on probation, as well, Heath said.

E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com




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