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RFT report reveals firing of serial sexual harasser in St. Louis County jail

A cell block is pictured on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
A cell block at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in St. Louis County.

A serial sexual harasser spent five years preying on co-workers in the St. Louis County Jail before his firing earlier this year — and that’s just one component of an ongoing investigation by Riverfront Times staff writer Ryan Krull.

Krull’s latest dispatch on the embattled jail, published last week, revealed accusations against former jail supervisor Aaron Mitchell, including accounts of multiple women whose previous attempts to raise alarm were seemingly ignored.

Riverfront Times staff writer Ryan Krull.
Evie Hemphill
Riverfront Times staff writer Ryan Krull

Central to Krull’s investigation is a 73-page report, commissioned by the jail, that was sent to Mitchell before he was put on suspension late last year.

The internal report, Krull said, “showed a pattern of sexual harassment as well as bullying” toward multiple female staff members. Beyond the report, Krull also interviewed former co-workers of Mitchell to corroborate the accusations against him.

Mitchell started working at the county jail in 2001. Krull found that he was the subject of complaints as early as 2002 that never triggered serious action.

“My understanding is he was suspended for that,” Krull said Thursday. “But [he] was then returned to his job shortly thereafter.”

Some 20 years later, when Scott Anders took over the job of justice services director in St. Louis County, multiple women came forward once again. By February, Mitchell was fired.

In May, the Rev. Phillip Duval resigned his position as chairman of the St. Louis County Justice Services Advisory Board, raising protest over the lack of reforms. On Thursday, he told St. Louis on the Air that the county government needs to do better when dealing with employees like Mitchell.

"This is one example among others," Duvall said of Mitchell's case. "We don't have zero tolerance when it comes to harassment.”

Krull's reporting in the Riverfront Times delves even further into the operations of the troubled jail, including a group of administrators known as "the family" and a connection to recently indicted jail official Tony Weaver.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."
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