Federal judge awards $1 million to woman sexually harassed by Casper probation agent

Read the original article source of this excerpt.

Casper Star Tribune on 11/20/2019 by Shane Sanderson

A federal judge on Wednesday afternoon ordered a former probation agent to pay seven figures to a Casper woman whom he sexually harassed while she was on probation.

The probation agent, Jaret Maul, no longer works for the probation office, which is a part of the Wyoming Department of Corrections. The government agency was never named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and Maul himself failed to contest the civil case.

The reason for his departure, however, is not clear. A corrections department spokesman has told the Star-Tribune that privacy of personnel records exempts him from disclosing how and why Maul left the agency in December.

As a result of his failure to respond to the lawsuit, the court found Maul in default. Judge Nancy Freudenthal held a hearing on Monday in Cheyenne to determine the monetary damages due to the probationer, who was assigned to Maul’s supervision as part of her first-time offender treatment in a misdemeanor marijuana possession case. She successfully completed the probation before reporting Maul.

In court documents filed in advance of the Monday hearing, the woman’s lawyers included portions of a transcript from a sworn deposition given by Maul. The former probation agent exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to a series of questions about the harassment. In one question, the woman’s lawyer alleges that Maul directly used his power over probationers’ freedom in order to barter for sex.

“In your position as a probation agent, did you request sexual favors in exchange for not failing people on positive drug tests?” asked Ian Sandefer, who represents the woman, Kalee Blazek, in the civil suit.

“Objection, Fifth,” replied Maul’s lawyers, according to the transcript.

Those lawyers could not be reached by phone for comment on Wednesday evening. Sandefer said by email that he was out of town and therefore unavailable.

Maul also exercised his right to avoid self-incrimination when asked if he had sent sexual photos from the Casper probation office and when asked if he sent videos of himself masturbating to multiple women.

Exercising that right cannot be used against him in criminal court. However, in civil proceedings like the lawsuit in question, declining to comment on the basis of the Fifth Amendment can be considered against a defendant.

The judge’s ruling, filed in court by mid-afternoon Wednesday, states that after he had been supervising her case for about three months, Maul added the woman as a contact on Snapchat, the social media app known for the ephemeral nature of its messages. He then used his government-issued phone to send unsolicited sexual messages and requests to the woman.

Maul went on to send photos of his erect penis to the woman. And, according to the judge’s ruling, because Blazek was afraid of having her probation revoked and being sent to prison, she sent Maul nude photos in return.

Freudenthal, in her order, awarded Blazek a total of $1 million: $200,000 for psychological injuries and lost income Maul caused, $300,000 for future emotional distress and money she now will be unable to earn because of the harassment, and another half-million dollars to punish Maul for violating Blazek’s constitutional rights.

Maul has not been charged in criminal court in connection with the case.