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Boone County councilman sued on sexual misconduct allegations files counterclaim

Claim accuses commissioner, employee of trying to damage councilman's career
Aaron Williams
Posted at 8:40 AM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 13:38:01-04

BOONE COUNTY — A Boone County councilman at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit has filed a counterclaim against the female employee who filed the suit and the county commissioner, accusing them of coordinating to damage his political career.

In his counterclaim, Aaron Williams denies all allegations made by the employee and accuses Commissioner Tom Santelli and others of engaging in a "deliberate and unlawful scheme to destroy (his) political, professional and personal career."

The claim accuses Santelli of demanding that the council president remove Williams from his committee assignments and threatening to contact the media and leak false information about Williams if she didn't. In addition, it alleges Santelli made "false and defamatory" statements to other elected county officials, including claims that Williams is "a serial sexual abuser/harasser" and is under criminal investigation by the FBI.

"Such false and slanderous statements are unequivocally and undoubtedly 100% false. Commissioner Santelli made the false and defamatory statements to further Santelli’s unlawful scheme and agenda in trying to destroy Williams’ reputation," the claim states.

The claim was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. A copy was provided to WRTV Thursday by Jason Delk of Delk McNally, LLC, an attorney representing Williams. Williams is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as relief for attorney's fees and other costs.

Last month, attorneys for the female employee filed a lawsuit alleging Williams repeatedly sexually harassed her from April to September 2021 and engaged in retaliatory behavior against her after she filed a formal sexual harassment complaint. The lawsuit also names the Boone County Board of Commissioners, saying it failed to take appropriate action in response to her complaint.

The lawsuit alleges Williams made inappropriate comments toward the employee and called her on her work cell phone "approximately twice per week" between June and August. It says Williams told her in one of the calls, "he wanted to keep their 'friendship' a secret.

On other occasions, Williams told the employee he was "going to get in the shower," adding "I am sure you don't want to hear that"; implied he wanted her to take off her pants and show him her legs; and asked her personal questions about her marriage, the lawsuit alleges.

It also claims Williams tried to see down the employee's shirt, asked her in front of a coworker if she had a "secret boyfriend", and brushed his arm against hers more than once after she moved away from him during a memorial service.

The employee filed that complaint last September, prompting the board to instruct Williams "not to engage in any retaliatory conduct toward (the employee)," which he failed to comply with, the lawsuit alleges.

The employee claims Williams removed her from her duties on the compensation committee two days after the complaint was filed, according to the lawsuit.

Coverdale Consulting, a Fishers-based marketing consulting firm, provided the following updated statement on behalf of the Boone County Board of Commissioners on August 31.

“The Commissioners are aware of the recent filings in court regarding a personnel matter. At this time, the Commissioners have no comment on the pending litigation.”

Williams declined to comment directly on the lawsuit but confirmed to WRTV that he is still serving in his position on the county council.

WRTV has reached out to attorneys representing Boone County.