The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 6, 2013

Waseca court director fired

Peterson accused of creating hostile work environment

By Tim Krohn
tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com

---- — WASECA — Steve Peterson was fired this week as Director of Court Services in Waseca County, after a judge cited conduct that included creating a hostile work environment and sexual harassment.

Peterson was a county employee, but as a court employee served at the will of Waseca District Court Judge Larry Collins.

Contacted by The Free Press on Friday, Peterson said he had no comment.

According to a letter of dismissal from Collins, investigator Michelle Soldo of Soldo Consulting met with Peterson on Sept. 20 to "address complaints regarding your interactions with and conduct toward county employees."

The letter said the investigation concluded Peterson was in violation of the county employee policy manual and of judicial non-discrimination and harassment policies.

While not citing what the specific incidents were, the letter cites discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment and interfering with an individual's work performance.

"Therefore, due to your gross misconduct, I am notifying you that effective immediately, you are terminated from your position," the letter said.

The Court Services department includes probation officers and provides unbiased written reports for the court, including bail studies and pre-sentencing reports, as well as overseeing home detention, supervision of juvenile delinquents and other duties.

According to the Minnesota Association of County Probation Officers web site, Peterson had previously served as president of the association.

A copy of the letter can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/k6arqm5