BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A doctor fired from the Adams County coroner’s office has received a $650,000 settlement from the county.
Dr. Michael Arnall worked at the office from 2005 to 2008 under James Hibbard, the coroner at the time.
In April 2008, female employees started telling Arnall they were being sexually harassed in the office by the chief deputy coroner at the time, Mark Chavez, who was a friend of Hibbard’s.
“They were concerned about touching in the workplace,” Arnall said. “At one point I said ‘The touching has to stop.'”
An investigation was launched into Chavez’ activity and he eventually left office. That’s when Arnall said Hibbard began to retaliate against him. Arnall said he was left out of meetings and other employees were told not to talk to him.
He said the retaliation lasted for months until one day during an autopsy in November 2008. Arnall and two female employees noticed the room’s camera, allegedly controlled by Hibbard, was pointed at the breasts of an employee.
A closed circuit TV showed what the camera was pointing at and Arnall took a picture of the monitor.
“I took the photographs and shortly thereafter the coroner came in and seized the camera,” Arnall said.
He was fired and recorded one of the last conversations he had with Hibbard before he left.
In one conversation Arnall tried talking to Hibbard about the allegations, in which Hibbard was recorded saying:
“Here’s your mistake. You think I’m weak and you think that’s why tolerance is a weakness. Here’s the problem … you dug your hole and I’m going to bury your (expletive) and I’m going to make sure I’m throwing the dirt on it.”
Arnall took his case to federal court and even though he lost his job, he says he doesn’t regret speaking up.
“I don’t like bullies and this is obviously a bully picking on young women,” Arnall said.
Hibbard did not run for re-election and is no longer the coroner. There have have been seven other cases against Hibbard, four related to Arnall’s case.