Former Brown County deputy sheriff Ross Erickson admitted not only sexual harassment but also utter cluelessness in testimony in Laura Zylstra Kaiser’s civil rights trial yesterday here in Aberdeen:
Ross Erickson, who used to work as a deputy and was a member of the local drug task with Kaiser, took responsibility for making the inappropriate comments.
He said he couldn’t remember the exact situations and statements he made, but admitted he made comments about her butt and underwear. He said he didn’t know the comments bothered Kaiser and that they were taken out of context [Shannon Marvel, “Deputy Admits to Making Comments About DCI Agent’s Butt, Underwear,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.12.15].
Notes to dudes:
- References to a co-worker’s butt and underwear will bother your co-worker.
- There is no normal context that will make your comments about a co-worker’s butt and underwear appropriate.
- The only contexts that might excuse butt-comments require exercises in crudity and comedy: We both slipped and fell on the ice. She fell on top of me, and I exclaimed, “Ow! Get your butt off my face!”
- Taking responsibility for making inappropriate comments does not usually include feigning ignorance and appealing to some impossible context. Taking responsibility means saying, “I should not have said those things. I’m sorry.” Period.
Along with squishing away from his butt/underwear comments, Erickson joined the defendants’ efforts to portray Kaiser as an emotional troublemaker:
“When I confronted her about it she got really emotional. She said she said all that to (Black) to see if she could trust him,” Erickson testified.
…Erickson testified Thursday that Kaiser said she told Black about false incidents of sexual harassment as a “trust test” [Marvel, 2017.12.15].
But Ross, you just said the incident of sexual harassment in question was not false. You just said it happened.
Just to ice the cake, Marvel reports that former Brown County state’s attorney Kimberly Dorsett took the stand and called Kaiser a “cancer” who created a toxic work environment in the sheriff’s office.
Dorsett’s comment establishes a severe malice toward Kaiser among other law enforcement officials. Erickson’s testimony establishes that Kaiser had legitimate grounds to complain about sexual harassment. I don’t know how the jury will respond when it gets the case today, but those two statements alone, along with the fact Kaiser’s work evaluations flipped from glowing to negative right after that October 2011 incident, suggest pretty strongly that Kaiser’s complaint of job discrimination is legit and that she should win her lawsuit.