ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It's been a rough year for Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston.
In February, News 13 reported on a case where a prospective deputy who was a member of Houston's church was given a re-take on a polygraph test against department rules.
In March, the union nearly unanimously gave Houston a vote of no confidence.
Now there's another problem.
Tuesday, former BCSO spokeswoman and legal advisor Jennifer Vega-Brown sued the department and Houston for wrongful termination.
According to the lawsuit, Vega-Brown was present when Houston made a number of inappropriate comments against Hispanic women who worked for the department. Specifically, Vega-Brown says Houston called one secretary a "fat slob", wondered how another female employee could get breast cancer because "her breasts are so small" and, when Vega-Brown reported him to the County Attorney, called her and a legal assistant a "couple of whores".
Vega-Brown was removed from public information officer duties in May and recently fired.
An Albuquerque Journal article reported that Houston had admitted to a reporter he had indeed made the "fat slob" comment and the "whores" comment in the context of reporting a third party allegation, but Houston's attorney Jonlyn Martinez denied all of that at a press conference Thursday.
"The sheriff never told any employee that they were an overweight slob or a fat slob," Martinez said. "In addition, the sheriff never told Jennifer Vega-Brown that she was whore."
In the Journal article, Houston reportedly says Vega-Brown was fired for performance issues.
"As was stated in the meeting that the sheriff had with the Journal yesterday she was terminated solely because of budget issues," Martinez said.
The Journal released recorded excerpts from their interview with Houston that appear to directly contradict Martinez's statements from Thursday's press conference.
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