Documents allege sexual harassment by former veterans service officer
Newly revealed documents allege sexual harassment complaints against Lyman “Robby” Robinson, Goodhue County’s previous veteran service officer and former president of the Minnesota Association of County Veteran Service Officers. Robinson resigned from the county effective May 2 as well as from his position as president of the association.
Because of the nature of the resignation from the county, the Republican Eagle gained access to two documents under Minnesota Statute 13.43 Subdivision 2. The law states: “Upon completion of an investigation of a complaint or charge against a public official, or if a public official resigns or is terminated from employment while the complaint or charge is pending, all data relating to the complaint or charge are public, unless access to the data would jeopardize an active investigation or reveal confidential sources.”
The first item is an email sent April 19 to Goodhue County Human Resources Director Melissa Cushing. The name of the sender was redacted.
According to the email:
“Unfortunately, we had a male VSO from Goodhue County who was a perpetrator of sexual harassment events recently at a CVSO conference in Mankato. He also has a long history at his county and other counties we have discovered.”
The second document is a complaint from an unnamed woman. It states that on April 10, during the Mankato conference, the woman and other participants at the conference went out for dinner. While out, she met Robinson and they began to talk about their families. The room became so crowded that the woman lost sight of the rest of her group.
“(Robinson) reached out and grabbed my hand. I pulled away and told him that I was married again,” the woman states.
The woman goes on to state that “he continued to scoot closer to me and kept smiling. I couldn’t even look at him at this point, I just wanted to get out of there.”
She said later, “Robinson grabbed my hand, up by my wrist and pulled me towards him. I was terrified! I couldn’t pull away because the place was so crowded. I turned my body away from him and he kissed me on the cheek near my ear, and whispers something.”
The woman said she eventually was able to run back to her hotel room.
According to the email addressed to Cushing, "another female was also sexually harassed the day before (the woman who filed the report) by the same guy."
The email sender is now working "to help these females through formal processes to file complaints through their counties."
During the most recent Goodhue County Board meeting, Board Chair Brad Anderson told those gathered that he and the rest of the board would be unable to comment on the unfolding events because of a restriction that prevents them from speaking about county personnel.
The county settled a complaint in 2014 by an employee in the Veterans Service Office who alleged county administration discriminated against her after she forwarded a tip that Robinson had a history of sexual harassment at his previous job in Washington County. She also alleged Robinson stared at her breasts. The tip was later verified by Washington County documents showing Robinson was disciplined for staring at the breasts of co-workers in 2010, but not before Goodhue County Board unanimously approved hiring him.
Editor's note: This story was updated 3:30 p.m. June 14, 2019, to clarify the sequence of events outlined in the unnamed woman's complaint.