Former Burleson County Judge named in lawsuit alleging repeated sexual assault
Former Burleson County Judge Mike Sutherland is named in a lawsuit filed by a former county employee claiming he sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions while serving as county judge. The lawsuit also names Funky Junky, Sutherland's Caldwell cafe and collectibles store.
The former county employee's name was not released in the lawsuit, which her attorney says was filed in a Burleson County District Court.
In the 12 page document, the unidentified plaintiff claims Sutherland started to get "touchy-feely" with her while she was employed in a county office. The lawsuit claims "everyone" was forced to ignore Southerland's sexual harassment.
In November of 2017, the plaintiff claims Sutherland invited her to his restaurant. In the lawsuit, she says she accepted, thinking it was a reward for being recognized for her exceptional work ethic by her superiors. The lawsuit says the plaintiff didn't know the restaurant would be closed at the time of their meeting.
According to the lawsuit, Sutherland prevented the plaintiff from leaving and forcefully sexually assaulted her in the kitchen.
The plaintiff claims to have been assaulted several more times over the following months, until mid-January 2018. The lawsuit says she lashed out at Sutherland and he finally left her alone. Soon after, the suit states, the victim was fired.
Sutherland abruptly resigned from his role as county judge in June 2019 amid ethics questions. He agreed to resign as part of a voluntary agreement he signed with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
According to the report, the action comes after the commission received two complaints against Sutherland alleging that he "sexually harassed a woman and/or engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman employed by Burleson County."
The agreement says in exchange for Sutherland stepping down from his position as county judge, the commission would no longer seek disciplinary action on the matter. It also states Sutherland is forever disqualified from any kind of judicial service in Texas, including the performance of wedding ceremonies.
Sutherland denied any wrongdoing and told News 3's Clay Falls that he wanted to retire and believed it was the best time to step down.
We checked with Caldwell police. They said no report related to this case has been filed with their department.
The victim in this lawsuit is being represented by U.A. Lewis. Lewis is also the attorney representing Chester Jackson. Jackson was hospitalized following his arrest by a Burleson County Sheriff's deputy in April.