Former Chisago County crime analyst Michelle Jacobson filed a lawsuit with the United States District Court in Minneapolis suing the County of Chisago and former Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan.
According to the lawsuit, Duncan allegedly intended to coerce Jacobson to engage in a sexual relationship with him by threatening her safety and the safety of her children if she refused.
The following information is according to the lawsuit
Allegedly, on Oct. 26, 2017, Duncan called Jacobson into his office and informed her he would work on increasing her pay. Then he showed her a letter he claimed to have received from an anonymous source called “Control Freak.” Duncan told Jacobson he had received three letters and he had destroyed the first two letters.
Duncan told Jacobson not to tell anyone about the letters and not to contact any other law enforcement personnel about the letters. The next day, he texted her stating he had received another letter and told her, “Be prepared for anything.”
Duncan then emailed Jacobson about another letter he received from “Control Freak,” relating the content of the letter which again threatened the safety of her children and asked whether she would have a nervous breakdown.
The email said, “This (is) about protecting others and yourselves,” and also asked, “Michelle, how far would you go to protect your kids, your husband, and your reputation.”
Duncan’s email said the anonymous letter writer directed Jacobson to get in a car with Duncan, drive to a hotel in Bemidji, stay in a single room with a king size bed, and demanded that she follow instructions that would be delivered in a “packet.” Also, Duncan told her he thought this guy is crazy and he could do anything, but he is smart.
Duncan texted Jacobson Oct. 31, indicating he was going to go along with the demands of “Control Freak” to try to expose him. Duncan implied “Control Freak” wanted them to have sex and suggested they follow his instructions.
Jacobson met with Duncan in his office on Nov.2, and she told him she would not go to the hotel with him. On Nov. 6, she met Duncan again in his office, and he told her “Control Freak” had hacked into his phone and email and had wiped them clean.
On Nov. 20, Jacobson talked to a Chisago County sergeant about her conversations with Duncan and showed him the emails and texts she received from him. The sergeant encouraged her to go to human resources, but she feared retaliation from Duncan.
Jacobson began applying for jobs outside of the county. When she was turned down for a position, she felt her escape plan had failed. She decided to report Duncan’s conduct to the county Human Resources Department, which hired an outside investigator to conduct interviews in which Duncan refused to be interviewed.
On April 25, 2018, Duncan emailed his attorney stating, “I, and only I, am the source of the emails and text in regard to the current inquiry.”
The investigator hired by the county issued an investigative report, finding that Duncan’s actions constitute an abhorrent and shocking violation of the standard of conduct expected of a department head, a law enforcement officer, an elected sheriff, an employee of Chisago County, a supervisor, and a community leader.
After being interviewed by the investigator, Jacobson did not return to work and discharged her employment with Chisago County.
Duncan resigned as Chisago County Sheriff May 4, 2018, claiming his retirement was due to health reasons.
As a result of Duncan’s actions, Jacobson suffered severe emotional anguish: fear for her safety, fear for the safety of her children, fear for her job, feelings of revulsion, disbelief, horror, confusion, distrust, and fear of retaliation.
Jacobson sold her home and relocated her family outside of Chisago County, requiring her children to change schools, because of her fear of Duncan.
Jacobson is seeking damages for loss of career opportunity, loss of benefits and loss of future compensation; economic damages sustained from being forced to move her family to a different county in order to avoid the presence and influence of Duncan; and damages for emotional anguish, treble damages under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and an award of attorney fees.