ILNews

Sexual misconduct case gets transfer

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Thursday in a case involving the liability of a township trustee for sexual misconduct of her employee.

In Debra A. Barnett v. Camille Clark, Trustee of Pleasant Township, No. 76A03-0704-CV-182, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of Camille Clark, who is also referred to as Camelia in the brief.

Clark's husband, Donald, was the deputy township trustee. Debra Barnett went to the trustee's office and met with Donald to obtain financial assistance. At their second meeting, Barnett signed a contract to work for the trustee's office, as Donald told her that was the only way she could receive financial assistance. At that meeting, he touched her inappropriately and asked her to come back to finish the paperwork. A few days later, Barnett came to Donald's office, where he blocked the door, turned off the lights and forced Barnett to have sex with him. After she left, she called the police.

The Indiana State Police arrested Donald after he came to Barnett's house and tried to kiss her and unzipped his pants. He pleaded guilty to sexual battery and an unrelated battery.

Barnett filed suit against Camille Clark, alleging she is vicariously liable for Donald's actions. The trial court granted summary judgment for Camille, finding Donald's conduct wasn't similar to his authorized duties to be within the scope of his employment.

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision, ruling Donald used his official duties to create an opportunity to be alone with Barnett and he performed his duties before and after his misconduct. Summary judgment shouldn't have been granted because whether he was acting in the scope of his employment is an issue of fact, ruled the Court of Appeals.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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