Jury: Female boss sexually harassed deputy
GALVESTON – A Galveston County jury has awarded $567,000 to a former deputy constable who was allegedly sexually harassed by his female boss.
The jury made the award Friday to James P. Gist, 51, after deciding that former Precinct 7 Constable Pam Matranga, 55, sexually harassed him from May 2011 until October 2011.
Gist could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Anthony Griffin, said the jury refused to absolve Matranga because of her gender.
"They rejected this whole notion that you get away with it because you are a female," Griffin said. He said the jury awarded his client $200,000 more than he asked.
Condemns the verdict
Matranga called the verdict unfair and said that her former employee filed the lawsuit because she had refused to promote him.
"It was a circus for the last two years," she said about the lawsuit, filed days before the 2012 election in which she was defeated after eight years as constable.
"It was a horrible, horrible time," Matranga said. "Mr. Gist said he would make my life a living hell, and that's what he did."
Nevertheless, she is holding no grudges. "It's over, we closed the door," Matranga said.
During testimony rife with sexual content, Matranga admitted that she joked with Gist about his attending "chunky chick night" at a strip club where Matranga would have a chance to perform. She said she did not recall mimicking a topless dancer performing a lap dance at his office chair.
'Under the shirt'
Matranga denied pulling her blouse over Gist's head, but said she did it to other deputies. "If anybody was in a bad mood, like if Phil was in a bad mood, I would say, 'Phil,' or to anyone, 'Do you need to go under the shirt?" she testified in a deposition.
She said in the deposition that she did not "shirt" Gist because he found the behavior "creepy."
Two former employees also testified that Matranga often put other employees "under the shirt," incessantly used profanity and constantly made references to her body parts. Matranga was dropped from the lawsuit, leaving only the county responsible for the damages.
The attorney representing the county, Barry Willey, could not be reached. Griffin said the county argued that it bore no responsibility because Gist never complained to the Human Resources office. District Judge John Ellisor accepted Griffin's argument that Gist complained to his supervisor, Matranga.