Records: Anderson court clerk called himself 'Daddy', propositioned employees

Documents obtained by 10News allege William Jones sexually harassed female employees and liked to refer to himself in the office as "Daddy."

The Anderson County Circuit Court clerk referred to himself in the office as "Daddy," dangled potential promotions over his employees, talked about their breasts and used sexually explicit terms while communicating on Snapchat with at least one woman, documents state.

Records obtained by 10News including sworn statements by former employees portray William T. Jones, a first-term officeholder, as profane, bullying and manipulative.

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At least five female employees complained about him to the county's Human Resources Department, documents show, prompting a 2017 county investigation.

One of the women feared her complaint was being "swept under the rug," so she ended up filing a complaint with the local NAACP office, records show.

On Tuesday night, the Anderson County Board of Commissioners condemned the Republican's alleged actions.

They called on him to resign. Jones was notified about the meeting but did not attend.

Commissioners noted what appeared to be "a pattern of conduct that is outside the bounds of reasonable, ethical and moral decency for anyone supervising or working alongside county employees."

Commissioners based their resolution and censure on a presentation by Kim Whitaker, the interim human resources director for Anderson County. They don't have the power to fire Jones.

The commission noted Jones' alleged conduct leaves Anderson County exposed and vulnerable to legal actions by the women. Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager has warned him as well that he's created a liability problem for the county, records show.

Counseling is being offered to employees in his office.

Jones, seeking re-election this year, has not resigned.

He sent commissioners a statement Tuesday, which he also forwarded to 10News, suggesting the accusations were political in nature. He said he may have engaged in some "minor offensive joking", but "I categorically deny any actions which would create a hostile work environment.

He said he's also hiring lawyers to "appropriately deal" with these claims.

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Documents obtained from 10News paint a different picture.

Kim Whitaker, interim human resources director, presented her findings about William Jones on Tuesday to Anderson County Commission.

"Daddy's bitch"

On Sept. 14, 2017, human resources managers interviewed a Jones employee in the Anderson County Law Director's Office. The woman's name is redacted in records obtained by 10News.

The woman said Jones hired in 2014 soon after he was elected. She described an episode when she was in the copier room of Juvenile Court when Jones took her waist "in his hands, softly, almost like a caressing kind of soft."

She said he was lucky then that she didn't punch him in the face. After that she was afraid to be alone with him, she said.

The woman also told human resources officials that Jones referred to himself as "Daddy."

"He used to say, like, 'That's what daddy likes," the transcript reads. "Or, 'She's daddy's bitch,' or things of that nature. Whether he actually called me that -- he never called me that to my face, and he -- he slipped up at one point and called another one of my coworkers that to her face, and it did not go well."

10News has obtained the transcript of another woman who worked for Jones who was interviewed Sept. 14, 2017 in the Law Director's Office.

She started out in 2016 as an unpaid intern. The woman, who is married, said she needed the internship to satisfy graduation requirements for a degree, her statement shows.

After hours, she and Jones, a married man, began trading Snapchat social media messages. She told interviewers she thought it was "strange," but she took part in them.

"I guess as women we just -- I feel like we have to put up with more of that kind of thing," she said.

She also hoped to get a full-time job one day.

The Snapchat messages from Jones became "very provocative...very gross," according to the transcript.

She presented investigators with some of the screenshots of her communications with him.

On April 6, 2016, she alleges, he referenced her breasts in a message that read: "A single kind word or a photo of your boobs can make somebody's day."

That month, she acknowledged, she did send him a picture of her breast, records show. She said she later regretted that.

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More: Anderson commission condemns 'disgraceful behavior'

On May 15, 2016, she preserved a Snapchat message that she said was unwelcome and unsolicited from Jones.

It said in part: "Last thing I sent was grabbing the back of your head thrusting my ---- in your throat."

According to a copy of the message, he continued:

"You need to go to (his wife's salon) after work tomorrow

momma needs some help and it would give us alone time sometimes

Let me know I will tell her you will come by"

In other communications, he talked about liking "corsets" and "stockings."

At times she pressed him for a full-time job, the messages show.

He was non-committal or would ask why she wanted to know.

"Not sure what I'm doing," he replied when she said she hoped to be hired, records show.

According to an Aug. 9 written statement that the woman submitted to human resources officials, Jones wouldn't hire her full time. She worked part time instead.

Somehow, the woman told officials, Jones' wife Amy found out they'd been trading Snapchat messages.

"He asked me to come to his office one day and explained that one reason was because I had caused him so much turmoil at home because someone told Amy about the messaging through snapchat (sic). I explained to him that I didn't say anything and someone probably just started the rumor," her statement reads.

She continued: "He was dictating and controlling my life because of something that I never done."

Source: William Jones' website

In addition to submitting the Aug. 9, 2017, statement and sitting down for a sworn interview in September 2017, the woman also reached out in October 2017 to the NAACP's Oak Ridge-Anderson County unit.

Branch President Dave Anderson then sent a memo to FBI Special Agent K.T. Harper of the Knoxville area office.

"The bylaws for units of the NAACP mandate that the committee investigate all cases reported to it," the note from Anderson to Harper reads.

"However, we have no jurisdiction over an elected official. Thus, please review and forward to an investigative body that has jurisdiction.

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"Other allegations of Sexual Harassment against Mr. Jones have been presented to the committee; individuals are obtaining proof. I will send an amendment to this complaint once I receive the evidence."

The woman told the Oak Ridge NAACP she was concerned "the matter now will be swept under the rug."

She wrote that as of Oct. 6, 2017, two months after her initial complaint to the county HR department, "Mr. William Jones has not been held accountable for his actions."

She also noted at that time that county human resources director Russell Bearden was leaving his job as of Oct. 20.