Investigator: Utah County commissioner 'widely viewed as workplace bully'

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PROVO — The day after Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves faced calls to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment, the county attorney's office released its findings of an investigation into the claims — a report Graves said would clear him "100 percent" of wrongdoing.

But county GOP officials were not convinced, joining a chorus calling for Graves' resignation.

In the 11-page report released Thursday, independent investigator Spencer Phillips wrote that he was unable to identify any witnesses to corroborate allegations of sexual harassment, and therefore he was "unable to conclude that (Graves) engaged in any unwelcome sexual or suggestive behavior" toward his accuser.

But the investigator did conclude in his report, based on interviews with 14 other employees, that Graves is "widely viewed as a workplace bully, dishonest, demeaning, intimidating, threatening and explosive."

"Accordingly … I conclude that (Graves) treated (the) claimant in an unfair, demeaning and offensive manner … and that this behavior was fully consistent with the way (Graves) treats many other employees of the county," the report states.

The investigator, however, did not include anything in his report that concluded Graves broke any laws or violated any county policies.

Graves did not return a phone call Thursday requesting comment.

On Wednesday, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said there would be no criminal case resulting from the county's investigation into Graves. Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, however, said it's possible the issues could be raised as part of a potential civil case.

Graves' accuser has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming she has been "harassed and discriminated against" based on her gender, and subjected to unlawful retaliation. The status of that complaint was unknown Thursday.

On Wednesday, Graves dismissed allegations against him as "attacks" and "slanderous words of a couple of people" attempting to "stop me from doing my work" and he said he plans to finish the remainder of his term, which concludes at the end of 2018.

The same county employee who alleges Graves touched her leg while sitting next to her in a golf cart also claimed that on the same May golf trip, Graves told her he wanted to get a divorce and asked the employee if she dated men who are divorced, according to her complaint, which was among dozens of pages the Utah County Commission agreed to release to the public on Wednesday.


On the way back from the golf course in Graves' car, the same employee said Graves told her "he could get sex anywhere and that there were women attracted to the power he has as a commissioner."

The redacted reports released Wednesday and the investigative report released Thursday detail other instances in which witnesses described Graves as "abusive," "demeaning," "explosive" and "intimidating."

One witness described an instance when Graves' paycheck was delayed, and Graves came into the office "yelling and using vulgar language, including referring to (an employee) as a 'worthless piece of (expletive),'' the investigator wrote.

Multiple witnesses also described an incident when Graves waived his "clothed buttocks in the air" near his accuser's face in front of several other employees during a meeting. One witness told the investigator everyone "just fell into a shocked silence, but that's normal when we're around (Graves)," the investigative report states.

Another witness told the investigator that after the employee who accused Graves of sexual harassment declined to have Graves accompany her on an out-of-state training trip, Graves began treating her differently and told another employee that the woman had "messed with the wrong commissioner," the investigator wrote.

In a Nov. 13 interview, Graves denied most of the allegations against him, while admitting to a few — but with variations that contradicted himself or other witnesses, the investigator concluded.

Graves also admitted he "might have" made the comment that his accuser "messed with the wrong commissioner" after she asked him not to attend the out-of-state training trip, but he "justified his angry outburst by explaining that he was 'livid' because he had 'invested five straight months'" on preparing for the trip, and that he was upset because he had "tickets to a sporting event that he did not want to miss," the investigator wrote.


Graves "adamantly denied" other allegations, including that he ever waved his buttocks in an employee's face during a meeting, the investigator reported. Graves also denied touching his accuser's knee while they were riding together in a golf cart.

"In defending his answer, (Graves) surprisingly claimed that the other golfers in his group were always very near to his cart and would have seen any kind of touching," the investigator wrote. "However, (a witness) credibly explained that (Graves) and (the employee) were often far away, 'out of earshot,' chasing their own golf balls and that he would not have been able to see any kind of touching that might have happened in the golf cart."

After reviewing the report Thursday, Utah County Republican Party Chairman Rob Craig joined one of Graves' fellow commissioners and the Cedar Hills mayor in calls for Graves to step down, saying the party has a zero tolerance policy regarding behavior that creates a hostile or intimidating environment.

“Greg Graves has made a mockery of his office as a county commissioner and also of the principles of the Republican Party,” Craig said a statement posted on the party's website. “His conduct is unacceptable. We have higher expectations of our elected Republican officials. These actions demand his immediate resignation. He no longer has the confidence of the Utah County Republican Party and its members.”

Craig said if Graves doesn't resign, the party will "puruse his censure, at a minimum, and his removal from office in accordance with Utah state code, if possible."

Fellow Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie said Wednesday the investigator's report "confirmed my personal feelings" that Graves "abuses his power, intimidates employees and is vindictive to those who disagree with him."

Under Utah law, elected officials can only be removed for high crimes or certain misdemeanors.

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Katie McKellar


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