After reaching a settlement in mediation in February, the terms of a settlement agreement have been reached in a lawsuit filed between six current and former employees and Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis, First Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirskye and the county judge and county commissioners.
The terms of the $1.75 million settlement were made public after the Collin County Commissioners Court approved an item during their Monday, April 17, meeting acknowledging their intent to sign it. County spokesperson Tim Wyatt said the sum would be paid from the county’s insurance fund.
Filed in October 2022, the lawsuit filed by the county’s top and deputy investigators alleged Willis making repeated untoward and unwanted comments, inappropriately touching employees and propositioning certain individuals. It also accused Wirskye of targeting female employees and fostering a toxic workplace.
“These individuals care very deeply for each other’s well-being,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeffrey Simon in an April 17 news release. “That support gave them the courage to stand up for themselves, their rights, and those of their colleagues.”
In addition to Willis and Wirskye, the suit named County Judge Chris Hill and county commissioners Duncan Webb, Susan Fletcher, Darrell Hale and Cheryl Williams and accused them of knowing of and covering up the misconduct.
The $1.75 million settlement will be split equally between each of the six plaintiffs in the case, Simon said in the release.
Rogge Dunn, Willis’ attorney in the case, said terms of the settlement also mean the employees working for the county at the time of the suit will resign. They will also drop their sexual harassment complaints that had been filed around the time of the federal filing in October.
“The settlement allows DA Willis and his office to now focus 100% of their energy on doing the job they love on behalf of Collin County’s citizens,” Dunn said.
Throughout the timeline of the suit, Willis denied any wrongdoing, labeling the claims made as “false, defamatory and outrageous.”
“From the moment I released just a portion of the compelling evidence of my innocence at my press conference, it was inevitable that these claims would have to be dismissed, either by the plaintiffs or by the judge,” Willis said.” This case only settled because an insurance company decided it was cheaper to settle now than pay lawyers to defend the case.”
He was also re-elected in November after running unopposed. Willis first took charge as the district attorney in 2011 and holds the power to appoint certain officials under him, such as Wirskye.
His wife, Jill, is an elected judge in Collin County who also won re-election in November after running unopposed.
Wirskye has also denied the claims and labeled the lawsuit as “politically timed and motivated.” He did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the lawsuit, the county commissioners had the ability to take action against Willis and Wirskye, but “chose to look the other way.”