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A Former Sheriff's Deputy Files Harassment Lawsuit Against County Executive Debbie Preston

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By Fox 40 Staff.
A former Broome County Sheriff's Deputy files a harassment lawsuit against County Executive Debbie Preston. The plaintiff Dawn Schafer claims the harassment and discrimination forced her to retire from the Sheriff's office on February 17th. Schafer claims Preston's harassment was because of a personal relationship she was having with a Town of Conklin employee.

"I couldn't go there every single day, just wondering what was gonna be the next hammer that was gonna drop," said Dawn Schafer.

Dawn Schafer says early retirement wasn't her plan. Schafer says Preston harassed her over a relationship she was having with Thomas Delamarter, the Superintendent of Parks and Water for the Town of Conklin. Schafer says the harassment and discrimination put her job in jeopardy, and affected her at home.

"It went into a Sunday afternoon when she sent someone to my house at 2 in my afternoon and that was in March of '12, telling me to stay away from him and at that point that's when I said, this is serious," said schafer.

"What we have here is abuse by a public official and some pretty serious repercussions for Dawn, who just wanted to live her own private life and just wanted to keep things private, and obviously can't do that now," said Ron Benjamin, Attorney for Dawn Schafer.

The suit claims that Preston conducted surveillance on both Schafer and Delamarter, including photographing Schafer's car, and driving by Schafer's home. Schafer says that an injury she sustained at work should not have prompted this kind of surveillance.

"If she's doing a workman's comp investigation, that wouldn't entail pictures of my car at my daughter's soccer games, and other locations throughout Broome County. My injury is to my right wrist, and it has nothing to do with my vehicle."

Preston has not responded to these allegations yet, but Broome County Attorney Robert Behnke released a statement saying: "I am aware of allegations made by the plaintiff. I am confident that they are without merit and at the appropriate state of the litigation we will be asking the court to dismiss this meritless complaint."

As for Schafer, she and attorney Ron Benjamin plan to move forward to try the case by the end of this year or early next year.
"I want it to stop. like I said, I'm just trying to live my life."