Harassment suit filed against Shilling Ex-Md. schools chief denies the charges

September 24, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

A Queen Anne's County employee has sued former Marylan schools chief Joseph L. Shilling, alleging that he made repeated visits to her house and harassed her while considering her for a job.

In a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Mary Beth Briscoe said the harassment continued after Mr. Shilling, now superintendent of Queen Anne's schools, hired her.

Ms. Briscoe became the county system's public information director last Dec. 20 at a salary of $45,000 a year.

Her suit seeks $10.8 million in damages against Mr. Shilling and the county school board.

She alleges that Mr. Shilling came to her home nearly every day between last Dec. 4 and May 10.

He brought along a bottle of vodka and drank heavily, Ms. Briscoe charges.

Ms. Briscoe was public information director of the state's school system under Mr. Shilling for 2 1/2 years before Mr. Shilling recruited her for the Queen Anne's County job.

Yesterday, Mr. Shilling called the allegations "absurd."

He added, "We tried to do what we could to help her," but declined further comment.

Court papers allege that Mr. Shilling pressured Ms. Briscoe about work-related issues during his daily visits.

On some occasions, papers allege, he entered her bedroom without her permission and stroked her hair and rubbed her shoulders.

Ms. Briscoe, 43, was afraid to rebuff him because she feared that Mr. Shilling would fire her or take other administrative action against her, according to the suit.

She said yesterday that the harassment led her to become addicted to prescription drugs and caused her to suffer a nervous breakdown.

She said she spent nine days in a hospital and six weeks in outpatient treatment recovering from her problems.

However, Ms. Briscoe continues to work under Mr. Shilling in her job as spokeswoman for the county's school system.

"I have worked very hard for my career, and I'm not willing to let this be cast out into the wind," she said. "It is an awkward situation, but the situation started long before the suit."

Mr. Shilling enjoyed a stellar reputation as the state's school chief and received praise when he left last year to run the Queen Anne's County system.

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