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Missouri agriculture director resigns amid harassment allegations

Fred Ferrell
Fred Ferrell

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Fred Ferrell has resigned as Missouri's Agriculture Director, following accusations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The allegations surfaced nearly a year ago, but details didn't become public until Friday, when Heather Elder, the alleged victim filed a lawsuit against the state.

In her suit, Elder claims Ferrell refused to promote her, kissed and touched her on numerous occasions, and said he'd like to see her in a wet T-shirt contest.

Senate Minority Leader Maida Coleman accuses the Blunt administration of covering up the allegations

"If this information was available a year ago, "says Coleman, "if the governor had access to this, and made the decision that Fred Ferrell should retain his job, I believe that he was sorely misdirected in this decision."

Governor Blunt suspended Ferrell for 2 weeks last May while the State Highway Patrol investigated the allegations.

Blunt was traveling out of state on Monday, but said in a press release he thought Ferrell could continue working by apologizing, paying a fine, and undergoing sensitivity training, but that it had now become clear that he could no longer effectively lead the state Agriculture Department.