by Andrea Tudhope, Kansas News Service
A former high-ranking official of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, was sentenced Wednesday for misdemeanor battery against a female employee.
Former General Services Director Tib Laughlin faces 12 months of probation, and must attend anger management classes and continued mental health counseling.
Last year, Laughlin grabbed Maddie Waldeck by the shirt and pushed her against a wall. In July, a Wyandotte County jury found Laughlin guilty of misdemeanor battery; Laughlin, who spent two decades at the UG, resigned almost immediately.
After Laughlin’s conviction, UG Public Relations Director Mike Taylor told KCUR that UG officials were surprised by the jury’s verdict, because they had conducted an internal investigation of the incident, and “came to a different conclusion than the jury.”
Waldeck, however, felt that the UG condoned the harassment and physical assault she faced. In August, she sued the Unified Government, saying Laughlin engaged in a pattern and practice of gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and that the UG “failed to discipline” Laughlin, despite Waldeck’s repeated complaints.
Waldeck told KCUR the two years she worked with Laughlin were the “most stressful and heartbreaking of her professional life.” But in her victim impact statement Wednesday, Waldeck said it wasn’t entirely Laughlin’s fault.
“When an animal that hasn’t been trained properly repeatedly has an accident on the carpet, you don’t blame the animal. You blame the owner who didn’t take the time to show the animal there is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things,” she said. “The Unified Government failed me. It failed Mr. Laughlin. It failed my family. And it failed our community.”
For his part, Laughlin said in his statement Wednesday that it had become “painfully clear” to him that pushing his employee against a wall was wrong. He made eye contact with and apologized directly to Waldeck, who he called a “valued colleague,” until the judge told him to turn around and address the court.
He called his behavior “stupid, impulsive and obviously wrong.”
“I let down friends, colleagues and myself. They all, especially Maddie, deserve better,” he said.
Waldeck told KCUR after the hearing that she appreciated Laughlin’s apology and that he accepted responsibility for his actions.
“I would like to hope what he said was true,” Waldeck said.
Andrea Tudhope is a reporter at KCUR 89.3. Email her at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter @andreatudhope. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.
See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/former-wyandotte-county-official-sentenced-anger-management-probation-battering-employee