TOPEKA — A Kansas revenue department attorney accused of sexual harassment and unprofessional comments to colleagues about lesbian law enforcement officers, Hispanic culture and female anatomy no longer works for the state, officials said Thursday.
Jerome Gorman, a Democrat who served as district attorney in Wyandotte County, was dismissed by the Kansas Department of Revenue following an inquiry by the state Department of Administration. He was hired into the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback in early 2017.
Resolution of Gorman’s status followed publication by the Topeka Capital-Journal of a Jan. 3 story detailing toxic remarks and harassment attributed to Gorman. In addition, the Capital-Journal reported Marc McCune, a special agent in the revenue department, was fired in December after passing concerns of state employees about Gorman’s conduct to revenue department lawyers.
McCune and Gorman worked in the revenue department’s office of special investigations. Gorman’s salary with the state was $102,000.
“I’m relieved that my former employees are no longer subjected to his behavior, but remain concerned about the future of OSI and disappointed that I had to lose my job five weeks before they acknowledged the real problem,” McCune said.
Rachel Whitten, spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, said Gorman’s employment with the state of Kansas ended Tuesday.
Gorman, who was the Wyandotte County district attorney for 11 years, appeared to have an infatuation with sexual innuendo and relished opportunities to raise for provocative topics in private conversations at work and during department staff meetings.
Interviews and documents indicated he tormented revenue department employees with sexually charged comments and assertions that women in law enforcement were lesbians, Hispanic culture was bankrupting Catholic churches and pleasure could be found in scheduling job interviews for unqualified applicants with big breasts. He also expressed a hope he would secure a “work wife” at the revenue department in Topeka as he had done while serving as district attorney in Kansas City, Kan.
McCune, who served as a captain in the Kansas Highway Patrol during a 37-year career in law enforcement, said he shared observations about Gorman during a meeting Sept. 27 with revenue department attorneys David Clauser and Robert Challquist.
On Dec. 1, McCune said he was dismissed by Department of Revenue Secretary Sam Williams. Three days after the firing, McCune sent a memorandum to the Department of Administration detailing allegations about Gorman that he’d presented to Clauser and Challquist.
Whitten, the revenue department spokeswoman, declined to answer whether the state’s human resources investigation resulted in disciplinary action of Clauser or Challquist. She said the revenue department’s position is McCune falsely claimed he had a conversation with the two attorneys in late September at the revenue department regarding Gorman’s alleged conduct.
“The first and only complaint was raised to the Department of Administration,” Whitten said.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said he was concerned the slow reaction by the Brownback administration was a disappointment.
He also said the Gorman case and a recent controversy at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, in which a top official was allowed to stay on the job despite evidence of sexual harassment, could reflect lack of interest by the administration in holding high-profile executive branch employees accountable for their actions.
“The pattern is, if you forward complaints, you lose your job,” Hensley said.