MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An outside investigation has found a former Chisago County Sheriff sexually harassed a female employee.

Rick Duncan retired in April, citing health reasons. The county began investigating the claims in February after a female employee came forward with the allegations against Duncan.

Documents obtained by WCCO-TV show Duncan allegedly told a female employee in the fall of 2017 that he received a series of blackmail letters from an anonymous third party, who had the alias “Control Freak.”

The letters required him and a female employee to both go to a training together in Bemidji, as well as stay overnight in a hotel together, among other things. One of the letters said that something may happen to the both of their families if the instructions were not followed.

Rick Duncan (credit: CBS)

Duncan allegedly implied the letter writer would possibly want him and the employee to have sex — and that the letter writer was crazy enough to follow through on threats to their families.

The female employee later met with the sheriff and told him she would not follow the instructions, and that she would take her chances. Duncan allegedly said he would try to draw the letter writer out.

An outside investigator found the former sheriff engaged in sexual harassment, calling his actions a “abhorrent and shocking violation of the standard of conduct” expected of an elected official.

“There is a huge amount of trust placed on elected officials to perform their duties,” said County Administrator Bruce Messelt. “That is especially true in law enforcement. In this particular case, I think that’s why the investigator concluded the way she did, that this was a very serious breach of trust, of the public trust, especially from a law enforcement officer.”

The female employee also filed a police report about the harassment.

To avoid any conflict of interest, Anoka County is now investigating to see if criminal charges are warranted.

Duncan’s attorney, Marshall Tanick, gave this statement to WCCO-TV Saturday night: “Sheriff Duncan encountered health-related issues which led him to retire from his position as Sheriff. He continues to get assistance for those health-related issues and thanks the community for their support.”

Mary McGuire