Former Murray County Magistrate, Other Officials Hit By 2 Federal Lawsuits

  • Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three women who worked in Murray County, Ga., Magistrate Court are suing the county along with former Magistrate Bryant Cochran, alleging sexual harassment.

Also, Cochran is named in a second suit filed in Federal Court at Rome, Ga., by a woman who authorities say had drugs planted on her car after she accused Cochran of making sexual overtures to her.

Both complaints are filed by attorneys McCracken Poston and Stuart James.

The second suit is lodged against Cochran, the Murray County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Howard Ensley and former Capt. Michael Henderson and Deputy Josh Greeson.

The suit says Cochran asked Ms. Garmley to wear a short skirt and no panties and to come to his office while she had a case in his court. He also asked her to send him a lewd photo of herself, it was charged.

It says Cochran, Greeson and Henderson then set Ms. Garmley up for a false arrest by planting drugs on the vehicle.

After an investigation, Greeson and Henderson were arrested by federal authorities.

Virginia Rector, Yesenia Galvan and Sonya Petty are plaintiffs in the first suit.

The complaint says throughout her employment Ms. Rector "has been the victim of sexual advances, comments and inappropriate sexual conduct by Cochran."

It says, "Rector has been touched about the body by Cochran in an inappropriate and sexual manner.

"Rector, Petty & Galvan have all been the victims of intimidation tactics by Cochran resulting in threat against each of them if they supported any other candidate during Cochran's reelection to the Magistrate Judge.

"Cochran undertook to intimidate Rector, Petty & Galvan as well as litigants in his courtroom through sexual harassment, commentary regarding sexual conduct, and removing personal data from mobile phones of litigants and employees. Cochran committed various acts abusing the authority and power of his office including the false arrest and prosecution of litigants in his courtroom and is, consequently, under a grand jury investigation is being directed by the United States Attorney in the city of Atlanta Georgia.

"Cochran's actions were designed to suppress women and litigants in his courtroom from making complaints about Cochran's conduct in his courtroom and with litigants and employees of Murray County. Murray County was either actually or constructively aware of Cochran's activities and failed to take appropriate action to stop Cochran from abusing the powers of his office.

"Petty & Galvan witnessed acts committed against Rector by Cochran and were themselves the subject of inappropriate sexual comments and conduct by Cochran.

"Cochran's actions included but are not limited to (A) staring at Rector's breasts; (B) making comments about Rector's breasts such as "boy they are getting bigger..."; (C) making off-color jokes asking Rector into meetings and asking her to close the door then sexually intimidating her; (D) asking Rector to close the door, step into his bathroom, touching her breasts, touching her vaginal area, rubbing" against her.

It says, "Petty & Galvan witnessed some of these actions and were aware of others. Cochran also made inappropriate statements in front of Rector, Petty & Galvan regarding sexual encounters with other women. . ." ,


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