Only On 13: Fort Bend County Constable accused of sexually harassing and favoriting women

Friday, January 12, 2024
Only On 13: Ft. Bend Co. constable accused of sexually harassing women
Constable Daryl Smith was named in a lawsuit that is accusing him of sexually harassing women officers.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A new lawsuit is accusing a Fort Bend County constable of abusing his power and sexually harassing women who worked for him and promoting women based on the alleged advances.

On their website, Precinct 2 Constable Daryl Smith tells the world he "believes in supporting and empowering women in leadership roles," with photos of various women in top leadership positions.

But, the now-former assistant chief, two former sergeants, and a former lieutenant filed the suit against Fort Bend County for failing to protect them against Constable Daryl Smith's alleged behavior.

Attorney Scott Poerschke is representing them.

Marquitta Hilliard began working for the constable full-time in 2021 and was promoted to sergeant.

"My first red flag with him is when I went to get my uniforms, and he accompanied us," Hilliard said. "He said he needed to see how the uniforms fit, which I found very unusual. In my 18 years of law enforcement, I never had a superior come with me to get uniforms, ever."

In 2020, Constable Smith promoted Geneane Orndorff from lieutenant to assistant chief. According to the lawsuit, Orndorff started having uncomfortable encounters with the constable, which began when she was a lieutenant.

"At one point, it got to where he would come in the office with me and talk about how he is stressed and needs a hug, and it immediately hit me, is this what he is doing to other people in these offices?" Orndorff said. "It was a lot of women, a lot of men being let go, more women being brought in. A lot of closed-door meetings with women, I felt, should be another person in the room full time."

According to the lawsuit, Constable Smith would comment, "Look at all this money I am paying you" and, "You'll know when I have no use for you."

After the promotion, Orndorff began meeting with the constable regularly, according to the lawsuit.

"I was qualified for the position, so I am not going to say that's not the reason why. But I think obviously gender and sexuality played a lot," Orndorff said.

According to the lawsuit, "Constable Smith discriminated against males by failing to promote them and giving them less desirable positions compared to females."

Former Sergeant Caston DeBoise, the only male in the lawsuit, said he watched underqualified women being promoted over himself and other men.

"The special treatment and rules they got that other men didn't get in the department was very frustrating," DeBoise said. "I realized I better keep my mouth shut and don't expect to be promoted on merit."

The lawsuit describes two alleged sexual assault incidents against former Assistant Chief Orndorff.

In one instance, the lawsuit claims Constable Smith "shut the door, grabbed Orndorff by the shirt collar, and stuck his other hand in Orndorff's pants. Orndorff asked several times for the constable to stop, and then he finally let go."

"When you have someone over you, it holds your life," Orndorff said. "You need to feed your family. You are making this decision on what to do next."

Orndorff brought the sexual assault allegations to the District Attorney's Office, and the case was brought to a grand jury. According to the Fort Bend District Attorney's Office, the case was no-billed, meaning the case was dismissed and there were no charges.

ABC13 contacted the Fort Bend County Pct. 2 Constable's Office about these allegations. The Fort Bend County Attorney's Office said it won't comment on pending litigation.

Even though it meant losing her way to provide for her family, Orndorff said the unwanted advances led her to eventually resign and file a complaint with human resources along with the others named in the lawsuit.

"Me, being in the position I was in, it was about the safety and security for the deputies that were there, and we all met at HR," Orndorff said.

According to the lawsuit, in 2022, Constable Smith showed up at Orndorff's church and "persuaded her to meet with the pastor, and during that meeting said, 'You are going to lose your job over these people. I am going to terminate your friends.'

DeBoise, Hlliard, and the other lieutenant named the lawsuit were all eventually fired.

"It took a lot to stand up against the truth, and unfortunately, the county didn't protect us," DeBoise said.

"At the end of the day, our whole focus was to get HR to open their eyes, do something," Orndorff said. "We understand they are elected officials, but there are ways you can handle this to keep people safe and secure. You shouldn't be assaulted at work, demeaned through your gender, or sexually harassed all day. Hopefully, these things will change for the future."

The lawsuit is seeking $1 million.

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