IG: Employees Accuse Former Cuyahoga County Jail Chief Of Derogatory Comments

Former Cuyahoga County jail director Kenneth Mills (left) stood with his attorney Kevin Spellacy to plead not guilty.
Former Cuyahoga County jail director Kenneth Mills (left) stood with his attorney Kevin Spellacy to plead not guilty. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]
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A Cuyahoga County Inspector General’s report says there’s evidence former county jail director Kenneth Mills likely made anti-gay remarks about two employees.

The report, which was completed in January, also outlines other allegations of derogatory comments made about County Executive Armond Budish and Sheriff Clifford Pinkney.

“Three county employees separately heard Mills make different discriminatory comments regarding the perceived sexual orientation of a subordinate employee and a contractor,” the report concluded.

The report also said there was evidence that Mills “was not compliant with the county's commitment to diversity.”

According to the report, a county employee identified as “Employee-1” told the IG’s office that Mills asked whether two male staffers were dating. The employee alleged that Mills used an anti-gay slur. 

Employee-1 also alleged that Mills said Budish wouldn’t approve more money for cameras in the jail because “he’s a Jew.”

Another employee told IG staff that Mills said Pinkney was only appointed sheriff because he’s African-American.

Pinkney told the IG’s office that Employee-1 told him about Mills’ comments, but that he didn’t act on them “because he had no proof” beyond the employee’s allegations. According to the report, Pinkney also told IG staff that two female judges called him to say they believed Mills dislikes women.

IG staff interviewed 18 witnesses and reviewed “numerous documents” before reaching its conclusions, according to the report.

The existence of the report was first reported Monday by Cleveland.com. Inspector General Mark Griffin provided a copy to ideastream in response to a records request.

The report said that Mills did not sit for an interview with the IG’s office despite numerous requests.

Budish responded to the release of the report in a statement Monday.

“We have no tolerance for these kinds of offensive comments,” Budish said. “We are committed to a culture of respect at every level, in every department, throughout our organization. We will re-double our efforts with respect to training and education, to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

Budish’s office also released a statement from Brandy Carney, the county’s chief of public safety and justice.

“Disrespectful comments and actions will not be tolerated in the jail or anywhere in our organization,” Carney said. “We are committed to improving every aspect of the jail, including training for all levels of employees.”

Mills resigned from the county before the release of a U.S. Marshals Service report last year calling the jail he ran “inhumane.” He pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges including falsification and telecommunications fraud in county common pleas court.

Mills’ attorney has not yet responded to a request for comment about the inspector general’s report.

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