Former Barton County employee denies sexual harassment claims

BARTON COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A former Barton County employee is denying sexual harassment claims after a Pawnee County employee filed a lawsuit against him in March.

The civil lawsuit, by Pawnee County’s health administrator Robin Rziha, lists Barton County’s former administrator Richard Boeckman, as the defendant.

According to the lawsuit, the two met at a community meeting and harassment began a month later.

The document indicated the two met for business reasons at the Barton County dispatch center. It said that while the two were sitting in an office, Boeckman “”…got up from his chair and ran his hands through Plaintiff’s hair.” It goes on to say that Rziha tried to leave “…but Defendant closed the office door and forcefully grabbed Plaintiff forcefully as if to hug her, put his lips on Plaintiff’s lips, and attempted to stick his tongue into Plaintiff’s mouth.”

Boeckman denied those allegations in a May 2 response filing: “Through numerous emails and phone calls, the Plaintiff never negatively commented concerning their meeting on March 22, 2016.”

According to the response filing, Rziha asked Boeckman for help regarding Pawnee County health department finances. Boeckman’s response indicated emails between he and Rziha became “…less concerned with finance issues and became more personal and flirtatious.”

It also said he told Rziha to stop contacting him.

According to the lawsuit, Rziha is seeking an excess of $75,000 in damages and a jury trial.

Rziha’s attorney did not want to provide any comment on the case.

KSN’s Amanda Aguilar also reached out the Boeckman’s attorney, as well as Barton County’s counselor to ask about the county involvement in the case — they have not responded.

Boeckman resigned as Barton County administrator in October 2016. He was given an almost $28,000 buyout. Since his resignation, the county voted not to fill the administrator position. It now uses Ellsworth’s attorney as a counselor.