DENVER (AP/CBS4) – A western Colorado district attorney has been accused of demanding sexual favors from women in his office in exchange for perks such as being allowed to leave work early.
Court documents say one woman told investigators that she feared losing her job if she didn’t comply with 48-year-old Myrl Serra’s sexual demands. The woman told investigators that Serra knew she was married but demanded that she provide him sexual favors in his office at least 25 times since November 2007.
She was “embarrassed that she was ‘weak enough’ to allow him to do that to her,” but that she feared he would destroy her career and felt that she was being held hostage by Serra, according to an affidavit unsealed Thursday.
“She ‘submitted’ each time because she is ‘terrified’ he is going to find a reason to fire her,” according to the affidavit. Other women in Serra’s office described a similar atmosphere.
Serra faces seven charges, including extortion, indecent exposure, felony unlawful sexual contact sometime in April and official misconduct. A prosecutor with the Attorney General’s office, which is pursuing the case, said in court the charges involve three women. Names on court documents have been blacked out.
Colin Bresee, one of Serra’s attorneys, says it’s a “he-said, she-said” case with no physical evidence.
“It’s disappointing. I guess anyone can say anything these days and get people charged,” Bresee said, declining to elaborate because he had not been given any evidence in the case.
Attorney general spokesman Mike Saccone said they would not comment on the allegations.
The attorney general has also taken over prosecutions in Serra’s sprawling 8,300-square mile state judicial district that covers the counties of Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose and Ouray. All judges in Serra’s district have recused themselves and the case has been assigned to District Judge Daniel Bottger in Grand Junction, 50 miles north of Montrose.
Investigators interviewed at least five people who either were employed or previously employed by Serra’s office, including a male investigator who said he witnessed Serra send an inappropriate and sexual based text message to his ex-girlfriend, according to the documents.
The woman who told investigators about the sexual favors initially said there were six or seven incidents, but that she didn’t reveal the entire story because her husband did not know. The incidents, up to 37, allegedly involved manual masturbation with Serra suggesting oral sex.
She said Serra sometimes went “hunting” for her by text or e-mail and when she was unavailable, Serra would punish her by giving her extra work. When she asked for time off or to leave work early, Serra would grant the request but then e-mail her saying, “you owe me,” she said.
Another woman told investigators that Serra made unwanted sexual advances after a gathering at a bar, but she didn’t come forward because she said Serra was “vindictive” and would fire her.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Serra is accused of making a sexual comment about her body, then placing his hand on her thigh. Her response was, “This is not going to happen.”
“There was nothing anyone could do to stop Serra from saying that her being fired was due to poor work performance,” she told an investigator according to an affidavit.
A former female employee told an investigator that Serra called her into his office in March when she asked to be allowed to leave work early.
“He asked me what I was willing to do to get off early, what would I give him,” she said.
The woman said she offered to bring doughnuts but when Serra said he was on a diet, she offered to bring fruit. She offered coffee and other things before Serra allegedly exposed himself, grabbed her hand and placed it on his penis, according to her account in the affidavit.
She left his office and told a co-worker. That co-worker told investigators that the woman had scratches on her wrist from the incident.
Serra is free on $5,000 bail but must stay away from his district attorney’s office.
P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press, contributed to this report.
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