Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis and First Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirskye are among the targets of a federal lawsuit brought by six current and former employees of the office who allege they were subjected to a pattern of intimidation, manipulation, discrimination and retaliation.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Northern District of Texas by Kim Pickrell, Keith Henslee, Fallon LaFleur, Vykim Le and two plaintiffs identified only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. Additional defendants include Collin County, County Judge Chris Hill and County Commissioners Darrell Hale, Susan Fletcher, Duncan Webb and Cheryl Williams.
“District Attorney Greg Willis treats many female employees as objects that, without their consent, must gratify his sexual impulses and personal vanity, while First Assistant Bill Wirskye runs the office as a crass, misogynistic fraternity complete with systemic hazing of the county’s attorneys, investigators and staff,” the lawsuit alleges.
Willis issued a statement to The Texas Lawbook through a spokesman on Tuesday calling the plaintiffs’ claims “dishonest and politically motivated attacks that waste time and money.”
“I categorically and unequivocally deny these false allegations,” he said. “They did not happen.”
Willis’ attorney, Rogge Dunn, also issued a statement characterizing the allegations as “sour grapes by some disgruntled former and current employees who had performance issues.”
Wirskye also denied the allegations in an email to The Lawbook, saying the lawsuit is “based on lies and recycled untruths by some very disgruntled and very troubled individuals.”
“It is a shame for all the good people who work in the Collin County District Attorney’s Office and our county officials to have to suffer through these untruthful personal attacks,” he wrote. “I can’t wait to get into court and clear my name.”
Pickrell is the office’s chief investigator and told the court in the lawsuit that Willis would hold weekly one-on-one meetings with her in his private office, where inappropriate touching would occur.
“Quite frequently he would give her full frontal body hugs while pressing her breasts into his chest, rubbing her lower back with his hands and moaning,” the lawsuit alleges. “He’d often remark about the condition of Chief Pickrell’s body, saying he could tell that she “worked out.’”
Sometimes the alleged inappropriate conduct was sexual in nature, and other times, Pickrell claims, there were “eruptions of DA Willis’ fierce rage.”
Collin County Commissioners and the human resources department was alerted to the alleged conduct, according to the lawsuit, including a “no-crying policy” implemented and enforced by Wirskye, but no action was taken against Willis or Wirskye. The lawsuit alleges someone in the human resources department told the plaintiffs “the DA is untouchable.”
“Collin County’s motive in silencing those who have reported violations that occur inside the DA’s Office is not only to relieve themselves of the effort it takes to solve a problem, but also to keep the complainants away from the EEOC,” the lawsuit alleges. “If the complainants believe that there is no recourse for them because ‘the DA is untouchable’, it follows that they will also not follow their rights up the administrative chain through the EEOC and then to federal court. The motive of the county, the DA and the first assistant is to avoid liability in the court system.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Jeffrey Simon of Simon Greenstone Panatier and Susan Hutchison of Hutchison & Foreman.
Counsel information for the other defendants wasn’t available Monday.
The case number is 3:22-cv-02425.