Head of Community Action Council accused of sexual harassment

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — The head of the Community Action Council in Lexington, which helps low income people and families, is accused of sexually harassing a female employee.

Court documents show the local Community Action Council and it’s executive director, Malcolm Ratchford, are being sued by a female employee for sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment and retaliation.

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The lawsuit was filed October 4th.

In keeping with our policy, we are not identifying the woman who alleges the harassment.

The female employee accuses Ratchford of repeatedly making unwanted advances and inappropriate sexual comments.

The lawsuit claims Ratchford told the woman he wanted to touch her backside and had “an erection” during a meeting with her.

Ratchford is also accused of sending the woman a text message saying he usually gets what he wants and “You are one of those things I want,” and “I am going to have you.”

The woman says in the lawsuit because of all of this she tried to resign in August but the human resources director asked her to stay on while the agency investigated the complaint.

The lawsuit goes on to say the law firm hired by the council to investigate the allegation accused the woman of not having enough evidence to show Ratchford had behaved inappropriately and that she couldn’t document some of her claims.

However, in the end the investigation found Ratchford had behaved inappropriately, according to the suit.

Despite that finding, Ratchford remained as executive director but he was suspended without pay for two weeks, ordered to undergo sexual harassment training and couldn’t take leave or vacation for 120-days, the lawsuit claims.

The woman then claims she was told she had broken policy within the company when she “failed to timely report the inappropriate conduct.”

As a result, she was moved to a different office and given a new title with different duties within the council, which is part of the retaliation claim in the lawsuit.

We reached out to the Community Action Council.

A lawyer for the agency told us the legal team is reviewing the suit, not commenting at this time, or releasing any additional information until they feel it’s appropriate.

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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at CBollinger@wtvq.com.