By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A high-level state Justice Department supervisor resigned last fall amid an internal investigation into allegations he sexually harassed female co-workers, documents the agency released Friday show.
Consumer Protection Supervisor John Knappmiller received a letter Sept 4. from the agency’s human resources officials that ordered him to appear at a disciplinary meeting to answer allegations that he had sexually harassed a number of female employees. Knappmiller submitted a letter of resignation on Sept. 22 upon his attorney’s advice. The DOJ released the documents in response to an Associated Press open records request.
Attorney Peter Fox, whose law firm represented Knappmiller, said he didn’t remember Knappmiller but would check with his other attorneys. No residential listing could be found for Knappmiller.
According to the disciplinary meeting letter, Knappmiller made repeated phone calls to a female subordinate after work hours, showed up uninvited at her home, insisted on picking her up for work-related travel despite her refusals and refused to leave her home until he met her children. He also allegedly drove by her home at random hours, positioned his “groin area” near her face while sitting in her office, commented on her appearance, touched her without consent and threatened her job. The letter didn’t elaborate on the threat.
Knappmiller also drove by the homes of other current and former female DOJ employees in 2010, 2011 and 2014 for no work-related reason, the letter said. He positioned his groin near the faces of several current and former female DOJ workers and cornered them in their offices, the letter said.
The letter went on to allege Knappmiller “inappropriately scanned female employees’ bodies” with his eyes and insisted on doing unwanted favors for these women such as buying them lunch and inspecting their personal vehicles.
He also followed two female workers around the DOJ’s Madison headquarters with no justification, followed one female worker in his car as she left the headquarters’ parking ramp and more than once drove up to a female employee as she was walking and offered her a ride to the office even though he had no reason for being on that street.
The letter also alleges that he used a woman’s employment application as a pretext to meet with her at her office and ask her personal questions about her children and her job. He cornered the woman behind the closed office door. After he became agitated with her answers, he called her supervisor the next day to complain about her rudeness.
The letter added that Knappmiller threatened other employees with negative performance evaluations and in 2007 threatened to have a police officer issue a traffic citation to a DOJ employee after alleging the worker failed to stop at stop sign.
Knappmiller was responsible for directing investigations into Medicaid fraud and elder abuse, as well as training investigators and auditors.