Politics & Government

Kansas agency sued after complaint that official offered job for sex

Brandt Haehn formerly was the administrator overseeing in-home and community services in the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.
Brandt Haehn formerly was the administrator overseeing in-home and community services in the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. Wichita Eagle

A Kansas state agency failed to promptly and thoroughly investigate complaints that a high-ranking official offered a woman a job in exchange for sex and sent her a video of him masturbating, according to a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses Brandt Haehn, a former commissioner of home and community-based services at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, of harassing an assistant director at a Newton-based organization that provides services to adults with developmental disabilities.

Haehn sent sexual text messages, pictures and a video to the work phone of Equi-Venture Farms assistant director Jennifer Gill throughout the fall of 2016, the lawsuit filed by Gill says. The lawsuit says Haehn used his state-issued phone to send the messages.

When Gill met with Haehn to discuss job openings at KDADS, Haehn sent a text asking her if she would “be able to handle” having sex and giving him oral sex three times a week in exchange for a job, the lawsuit says.

In December 2016, the lawsuit says, Gill received a video from Haehn “of what she believed to be KDADS Commissioner Haehn masturbating.”

Gill’s lawsuit says she complained to Equi-Venture Farms, but that she was fired on Dec. 26, 2016, in retaliation for her complaints. Gill filed a separate lawsuit in June against Equi-Venture Farms.

Gill reported Haehn’s actions to KDADS in March 2017 to the agency’s senior legal counsel and was told an investigation would be conducted, the lawsuit says.

But, the lawsuit says, the agency “did not conduct a prompt and thorough investigation” of her allegations.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Kansas, says KDADS’ conduct was “extreme and outrageous” and that Gill has experienced severe mental and emotional distress.

Agency spokeswoman Angela de Rocha declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

The Topeka Capital-Journal first reported on the allegations against Haehn last December and interviewed Gill on the record. Gill filed her lawsuit against KDADS earlier this month.

At the time, KDADS Secretary Tim Keck released a statement saying that while the agency doesn’t usually respond to questions about personnel matters, “we’ll make an exception in this case to say that as soon as we became aware of these allegations, KDADS put the employee in question on administrative leave,” Keck said.

Keck went on to say that Haehn was no longer employed by the state.

In a legal filing, Equi-Venture Farms denied Gill’s charge that it didn’t conduct a prompt and through investigation. The company acknowledged that Haehn had sent a video to Gill, however.

The organization also says that it “did not willfully violate or recklessly disregard any law” in how it treated Gill. The organization also says that Gill “failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate her claimed damages,” but it didn’t elaborate.