SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned St. Joseph County Commissioner, Deb Fleming, submitted a retirement and leave of absence letter amid allegations that she sexually harassed a subordinate. Those allegations came to light after a public records request from RNM uncovered an email from another commissioner asking if her retirement was related to the alleged incident of sexual harassment.
Fleming submitted the letter to the St. Joseph County GOP last week. However, the letter didn’t include effective dates of resignation or leave of absence and was not submitted by her to the County Clerk, as is standard.
In the letter, Fleming writes to St. Joseph County GOP Chair, Zach Potts, “I would like to inform you that I am planning to retire from my County Commissioner District 3 seat to spend time with my family. I also will leave of absence for medical reason.”
In an email obtained by RNM through a public records request, Commissioner Derek Dieter questioned if sexual harassment allegations were the reason for the letter.
“Does this have anything to do with alleged sexual harassment complaint made against her by fellow county employees?” Dieter wrote in an email on Wednesday.
RNM has requested a copy of Flemings personnel and discipline files from the St. Joseph County Human Resources Department. County officials denied that request.
However, sources who wished to stay anonymous, tell RNM, the alleged sexual harassment led to a formal complaint and, although the St. Joseph County Human Resources Department intervened, there was no official action that could be taken due to her position as an election official.
“I am not a sexually harassment person. I just was happy that I had my sexual doctor examine me and I was excellent!” Fleming told RNM in a text. “There are some people that don’t like me so they are lying about things to get rid if (sic) me. So PLEASE ignore what you are being sent a d (sic) then hopefully things will be shut done (sic) for me.”
Sources tell RNM, Fleming is actually referencing a separate incident involving inappropriate behavior in which she discussed both her vaginal and breast exams to employees in multiple departments at the County-City Building, which may have also resulted in a formal complaint to HR.
According to an article by WSBT, Fleming claimed she did not write the retirement letter when initially asked yesterday. She also claimed the letter did not contain her actual signature. She then changed her story a day later, claiming she did write the letter.
“Well my husband and I did create that letter and I did sign it but did not know it or what was released.” Fleming told RNM in a text message. “And I drove to Chicago yesterday… and it rained SO much. So I was not really able to see or hear things well. Was not sure what letter was sent out… I discovered this morning that our letter was sent out and I signed it.”
RNM reached out to St. Joseph County GOP leadership for comment. As of publication, we have not received a response.
If Fleming retires or resigns, the St. Joseph County GOP will hold a caucus to fill her seat. If she takes a leave of absence, her seat will not be filled.
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