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Former York County sheriff’s office worker files sex discrimination lawsuit

Crystal Kissel, a former DNA technical leader with the York County Sheriff’s Office, shows the lab in this 2014 file photo. Kissel has filed a lawsuit against the office alleging sex discrimination.
Crystal Kissel, a former DNA technical leader with the York County Sheriff’s Office, shows the lab in this 2014 file photo. Kissel has filed a lawsuit against the office alleging sex discrimination. Andy Burriss

A former DNA lab worker at the York County Sheriff’s Office has filed a lawsuit, claiming she was discriminated against based on her gender and age.

Crystal Kissel, 44, said in the lawsuit that she was forced to resign in 2017, after she was threatened to be fired unless she quit. She had voiced concerns about alleged altering of cases and being targeted by sex and age discrimination, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit names the sheriff’s office, York County and Sheriff Kevin Tolson as defendants.

Tolson denied the allegations, saying Kissel is “disgruntled” after losing her job.

“The plaintiff is a disgruntled former employee of the Sheriff’s Office,” Tolson said in a statement to The Herald. “My office is in the process of drafting an answer to the complaint, and we look forward to vigorously defending these allegations.”

Kissel said in the lawsuit she was subjected to a “hostile work environment” that included false allegations of an inappropriate relationship with another employee and loss of supervisory duties because of her age and gender.

Kissel also said in the lawsuit that a 2017 sex scandal at the sheriff’s office where her supervisor was suspended caused her to be placed in a hostile work environment where male employees were treated more favorably.

Two deputies resigned after other sex-related accusations were made.

Two York County, South Carolina deputies have resigned after admitting to having sex with each other while on duty. Six deputies were disciplined or terminated in August 2017 when an investigation found they had also had sex while on duty.

A third officer had been arrested in July after he was accused of paying a suspect for sex then failing to arrest the suspect.

A fourth employee was arrested last month after being accused of having sex with an inmate at the jail operated by the sheriff’s office.

Kissel says in the lawsuit she suffered “mental anguish and emotional distress” and lost her job, benefits and “enjoyment of her life” because of the hostile actions at the sheriff’s office.

In the lawsuit, filed in late September, Kissel said she was kept from training programs, deprived of supervisory duties, her lab work was shut down, her phone was tapped and several male employees made inappropriate sexual or gender comments about her or to her.

Kissel was the technical leader at the sheriff’s office DNA lab from 2011 until she was forced to resign or be fired, the lawsuit states.

The suit claims Kissel was targeted by several employees and “retaliated against” because she refused to do lab DNA testing that would have violated a suspect’s right to a fair trial, then was targeted after complaining about the office “altering” the case file.

Rock Hill lawyer Brad Jordan, one of two attorneys who represent Kissel, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald

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