Ex-sheriff's former lover drops suit against Jackson County

County leaders approved a settlement Monday with Christine Lynde, who worked as an assistant for Mike Sharp while he was sheriff. No money will change hands. (Jackson County Sheriff's Office)

The sheriff in Jackson County is resigning after recently released court documents described him having a sexual and financial relationship with a female employee who's suing the county.

Sheriff Mike Sharp released a written statement Wednesday saying he was "accountable" for his actions after court documents said he had acknowledged giving administrative assistant Christine Lynde $8,000 as a down payment for a house. The court records, which were filed last week, said Sharp took Lynde on taxpayer-funded trips and approved so many raises for her that she became the highest-paid civilian sheriff's office employee, The Kansas City Star reports.

"I allowed my judgment as Sheriff and my obligations to Jackson County (to) be clouded because of my feelings for someone I cared very deeply for in the past," the statement said. "This was a personal failing and is entirely my responsibility."

Sgt. John Payne, a sheriff's office spokesman, said in a written statement that Sharp's resignation will take effect Thursday.

Lynde, who's co-owned a house with Sharp since last year, sued the county in 2016, alleging sexual harassment by two female co-workers, as well as Sharp's then second-in-command, Col. Hugh Mills. Lynde said the harassment began shortly after she began working at the department in September 2013. The hostile atmosphere intensified, she said, after one of the female co-workers alleged to Lee's Summit police that Lynde sexually assaulting her at a motel room that fall after a night out drinking.

According to the police report, the female co-worker accused Lynde of removing the woman's shirt and encouraging a male friend to take photographs of her on a bed in the motel. The woman told police she was unsure what happened next, but awoke to find her pants had been removed. She then quickly left the motel.

When she told Sharp about the incident, he showed "resentment" toward her, according to the police report. The woman told police that she believed "this was a result of Lynde and Sheriff Sharp being friends."

No charges were ever filed.

In Lynde's suit, she said she told Mills that she had been falsely accused but that Mills "retaliated" against her. She also said in the suit that an unnamed male co-worker later made "inappropriate comments" and "touched her inappropriately" and that someone slashed her tires when her vehicle was parked in the sheriff's department lot in 2014.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office was notified in late 2017 by the county counselor of concerns regarding a pending civil action involving Sharp.

"We contacted a law enforcement agency and began our own investigation into the matter. We also closely monitored the on-going civil litigation involving Jackson County," she said. "While the allegations that have come to light are extremely troubling, today’s resignation satisfies the state’s interest regarding a potential “quo warranto” action to remove the Sheriff from office. We will continue to monitor this matter and take any appropriate action in the future."

Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. issued the following statement in response to the resignation of Sharp:“Based upon the serious allegations made public today, the Sheriff has taken the appropriate action to step down. Under the authority of the Jackson County Charter, I have the responsibility to name an interim. I will be making an announcement regarding my appointment in the coming days.”

In 2009, Sharp was sworn as sheriff. He has a combination of 26 years of law enforcement experience with the Kansas City Police Department.

Sharp graduated from Lee’s Summit High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in fire science and a minor in criminal justice at Central Missouri State University. During his time in college, he also served as a volunteer firefighter for the Lee’s Summit Fire Department.

He served in 2011 on the Missouri Sheriff’s Association Board Of Directors.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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