DIGGING DEEPER: Judge who presided over high-profile trial settles lawsuit against him

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WPTA21) – The former chief probation officer for a northeastern Indiana county and a former county judge have agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged “a campaign of sex-based harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.”

Heather Malone filed the lawsuit against former Huntington Circuit Judge Thomas Hakes in state court in December 2017. It later was moved to federal court in Fort Wayne.

Court documents show Malone and Hakes agreed to settle the case last month. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Malone was the county’s chief probation officer from 2015 to 2017 and alleged Hakes sent her unwanted messages and emails. The lawsuit claimed Hakes, who retired last year, reacted negatively to her dating another man and threatened to fire her if she accused him of sexual harassment.

ABC21 first reported the allegations in a “Digging Deeper” report late last year. The lawsuit came months after Hakes presided over the sexual assault case involving local Dr. John Mathew, who pleaded guilty but received no jail time.

The sentence prompted protests against Hakes.

ABC21 filed suit in connection with that case when Hakes barred the television station from broadcasting legally obtained court recordings. An appeals court ruling upheld the order, even though the audio records were available to any member of the public.

Hakes retired from the bench at the end of 2017.

Hakes Malone settlement confirmation letter

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley

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