County was unaware of vet service officer’s harassment record, officials say
Recently hired Goodhue County Veterans Service Officer Lyman “Robby” Robinson Jr. was reprimanded for sexual harassment in 2010 while serving as VSO in Washington County, a Republican Eagle public-data request revealed.
Goodhue County did not know about the reprimand when commissioners approved hiring Robinson on March 18, County Administrator Scott Arneson said.
A Washington County Department of Human Resources investigation substantiated a complaint that Robinson “exhibited a pattern of inappropriate eye contact of looking and staring at breasts of multiple female employees in the Community Services Department,” according to a Nov. 4, 2010, letter from Community Services Director Daniel Papin.
Among Robinson’s duties as VSO is processing veterans benefits claims, including disability compensation for personal assault or military sexual trauma.
“It was something that was a matter of perspective that was handled in Washington County four years ago,” Robinson said Thursday. He added that he has moved past the incident and looks forward to assisting veterans in Goodhue County.
The reprimand, which has a signed acknowledgement of receipt by Robinson dated Nov. 4, 2010, also states that Papin met with Robinson earlier that year to make him aware of the behavior and “the need to take corrective action.”
Papin added that an Aug. 4, 2010, performance review indicated Robinson needed to recognize and respect boundaries.
Robinson was ordered to attend a respectful workplace training session at the Washington County Government Center Nov. 12, 2010, according to the letter.
Records show Robinson worked for Washington County from Feb. 2, 2010, until March 3, 2014. The reprimand was the only complaint filed against him at the county during that time.
Robinson also currently serves as the mayor of Cannon Falls. His third term expires this year.
Background checks are conducted on all county employees during the hiring process, and Arneson said the check on Robinson “did not make us aware of any issues or concerns.”
Retired Goodhue County Sheriff Forest Wipperling said he was contracted to conduct the county’s background check, a process that involved an interview with Robinson, speaking with his references and looking into court records. Wipperling said the report he submitted to the county found no concerning details about Robinson’s past.
Goodhue County Board voted unanimously to approve hiring Robinson at a March 18 board meeting. There was no discussion by commissioners prior to the vote.
Goodhue County Board Chair Ron Allen said Friday they did not know about the reprimand until after the meeting, and criticized the investigation into Robinson for not doing a thorough enough job.
The board approved a job posting in December after former VSO Bob Davis announced his retirement last fall. Arneson said around a dozen applicants made the initial cut, with four selected for in-person interviews.
Robinson’s first day as Goodhue County VSO was March 21.