UPDATE: Testimonies conflict in Farmer suit vs. Floyd County
Editor’s note: The civil trial pitting Theresa Farmer against Floyd County features topics and profane language that some readers will find offensive
WAVERLY, Iowa — Three key figures in a civil lawsuit involving Floyd County took the witness stand Monday. Descriptions of events offered by Theresa Farmer and David Kuehner, when they overlapped, mirrored each well.
Former Floyd County Attorney Jesse Marzen’s testimony in places, however, did not.
Farmer, a former paralegal, worked for Marzen for several years but was fired. She is suing Floyd County for sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Marzen is not named as a defendant.
During his testimony, Marzen said he started carrying a gun after receiving a death threat and after a man upset about a child custody case stormed into his office.
Marzen recounted the man sweeping a box or stack of documents off a table in his office. The other employees in the office hid in Assistant County Attorney David Kuehner’s office, and someone eventually summoned the Sheriff’s Department, according to Marzen.
Deputies removed the man, according to Marzen.
“Was he ever charged with a crime?” asked Paige Fiedler, a lawyer representing Farmer.
“Not that I am aware,” Marzen said.
“And who would be more aware than you?” Fiedler asked.
“No one,” Marzen said.
Brooke Timmer, Farmer’s other attorney, later asked Kuehner about the alleged incident. Kuehner was Marzen’s first assistant but he was fired, as well.
“I don’t remember anything like that happening,” Kuehner testified.
Kuehner also denied an allegation that Marilyn Dettmer, Marzen’s predecessor, “sabotaged” the county attorney’s office after her defeat in the election. Marzen testified that Dettmer, now a magistrate, erased computer files, took documents out of case files and changed passwords.
Kuehner, though, testified Dettmer left the office in good condition, even stacking and labeling documents that needed attention. And the only password needed, Kuehner said, was the initial logon for computers.
“I don’t recall any files being erased,” Kuehner testified.
According to Kuehner, Marzen lied as a “fairly regular occurrence.” In one instance, Marzen allegedly talked about a prosecutor in Polk County being held at knifepoint. Kuehner testified he searched for media accounts of such a crime but found none.
“It was so bizarre,” Kuehner added.
In testimony Monday, Marzen reiterated firing Farmer for falsifying dates on court documents.
Fiedler confronted Marzen with previous testimony on the topic. Floyd County Attorney Normand Klemesrud, who previously worked for Marzen as his assistant, told jurors last week the idea Farmer filled out or faked documents was “bogus.”
Fiedler asked Monday if Klemesrud’s answer surprised or shocked Marzen.
“Yes, ma’am. That would,” Marzen said.
Marzen also denied knowing how women might react to what attorneys sometimes refer to as the “C-word.”
“I don’t know what everybody’s sensitivities are,” Marzen said.
“You don’t know most women wouldn’t like that?” Fiedler asked.
“No, ma’am,” Marzen said.
Timmer asked Kuehner’s opinion of Marzen’s abilities.
“He was a poor county attorney,” Kuehner said.
He later described Marzen as a misogynist with “deep-rooted hatred of women” and with delusions of grandeur. On one occasion, Kuehner said, Marzen was upset with a member of the clergy.
“He said, ‘Doesn’t this pastor realize that I am the left hand of God?’ ” Kuehner testified.
Timmer also asked for his view of Farmer. Kuehner, who is now in private practice, testified Farmer was a good employee while in the Floyd County Attorney’s Office.
“In fact, she is so good she’s your current employee, isn’t she?” Timmer asked.
“Yes, she is,” Kuehner said.
Beth Hansen represents Floyd County and during cross-examination asked Farmer about Marzen allegedly touching her waist, rib cage and breasts. Farmer testified knowing troopers with the Iowa State Patrol, Charles City police officers, Floyd County sheriff’s deputies and agents with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
“Did you ever mention to any of the officers you knew on a first-name basis what had occurred?” Hansen asked.
“I don’t recall,” Farmer said.
“That’s a yes-or-no answer,” Hansen added.
“No,” Farmer said.
As a victim resource coordinator, Hansen noted Farmer also had access and information to resources for victim’s of sex abuse.
“Did you ever contact those organizations?” Hansen asked.
“No, I did not,” Farmer said.