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Buncombe County settles with former sheriff’s office employee over sex assault case

By Web staff

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday it had reached a $695,000 settlement in a 2020 lawsuit filed by former detention officer Cynthia Heaton.

Heaton said the office, under former Sheriff Jack Van Duncan, was negligent in supervising and retaining former employee Charles Wilhelm after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her.

Wilhelm, who pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor assault on a female in December 2019, was later fired.

Sheriff Quentin Miller issued a statement apologizing to Heaton and saying sexual assault and harassment are never acceptable.

“What happened to Ms. Heaton was inexcusable and this settlement represents the consequences for acts of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace. It is imperative that when a supervisor learns about a potential violation of the sexual harassment policy, they report it up the chain of command immediately,” Buncombe County Attorney Curt Euler said in a news release.

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