LEON, Iowa -- A small-town sheriff resigned abruptly Friday afternoon.
Decatur County Sheriff Bert Muir resigned amid a petition that alleges he sexually harassed employees.
Attorney Thomas H. Miller filed the petition Friday morning.
"As I understand it, the situation, as far as the complained parties were concerned, was worsening. And it was felt that action needed to be taken," Miller said.
The petition says at least six people, including members of Muir’s staff and people with whom he closely worked, allege Muir commented on the size and shape of female employee's breasts, inquired or verbally speculated about employee's sex lives and touched employees in a manner that is abusive and offensive.
The petition goes on to describe Muir's actions as assault, saying the defendant physically assaulted employees, including but not limited to:
"pulling hair, hugging, pinching, squeezing, fondling ..."
The allegations then shift from sexual assault to bias in the workplace. The petition states Muir married a coworker after joining the department, becoming her supervisor. He allegedly promoted his wife and increased her salary, which is in violation of Iowa Code.
Miller said he first became aware of the situation late last week. Decatur County officials approached him on handling the case on the behalf of Decatur County. On Monday, Miller was officially appointed as the Decatur County attorney for this case only.
“The judge reviewed the petition [Friday] and signed the proposed order, which provided for [Muir] to be revoked from office immediately and turn over all county property in his possession,” the attorney said.
The petition ordered Muir be removed immediately pending a hearing. But rather than go through a hearing process, Muir resigned.
Miller said he is not aware of any civil or other proceedings.
Chief Deputy Ben Boswell is taking over duties as sheriff. Whether he stays as sheriff or a different sheriff is appointed is a matter for the Decatur County Board of Directors to decide at their meeting on Monday.
Employees at Decatur County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on the sheriff’s resignation.
Check back for updates on this developing story.