Olathe A fired Johnson County domestic violence chief says she will fight for her job, which she feels she lost because she complained about the treatment of women in the prosecutor's office.
Jacqie Spradling alleges that District Attorney Phill Kline or one of his assistants planted a recording device in her office to tape her conversations before the firing. She said the alleged bugging came after she sent a memo to Kline saying she thought women in the office were being mistreated.
"Any time a woman in that office expresses an opinion, it is disregarded," Spradling said Wednesday at a news conference outside the Johnson County Courthouse. "Women are treated poorly by discrimination and sexual harassment in that office."
Spradling, who led the domestic violence unit for eight years, filed a complaint with the county over her firing and hired attorneys to help with her fight. She declined to comment on specific incidents, but said she has evidence to support her allegations and that it will come out after an investigation.
Kline disputes allegations
Kline denies the gender-bias allegations and the claims of electronic eavesdropping. He said he knows of two incidents of alleged mistreatment brought by Spradling, and both were immediately reviewed and found to be without merit.
In one incident, Kline said, Spradling was removed from a death penalty case after she said she did not feel comfortable asking the jury to pursue the death penalty. He said in the other, an assistant district attorney made a comment to a female staff member - not Spradling - about the woman needing to get home to her family.
The woman to whom the comment was made did not file a complaint, Kline said.
Kline called Spradling's claim that her office was bugged "unprofessional, irresponsible and false."
One of many terminations
Her termination is the latest in a string of dismissals that have come under Kline. Eighteen employees have either been fired or resigned since Kline took office in January.
Kline replaced Paul Morrison, who ousted Kline as attorney general in November's election. Kline, a Republican, was chosen as Morrison's predecessor in December.
After taking office in January, Kline fired seven assistant district attorneys and a chief investigator.
"At some point, it's my hope that Johnson County citizens indicate to themselves that the destruction that goes on in that office - and has been going on for the last four months - must be met with some sort of retaliation, some sort of call for justice," Spradling said.
She said Kline fired her over the telephone Tuesday and didn't give her a reason. Spradling's replacement is Sue Carpenter, who has 15 years of experience as a prosecutor with the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office.
Politics vs. experience
Spradling said Kline has made "political hires," leaving the district attorney's office with a staff that lacks prosecuting experience.
"What I'm suggesting is that politics be taken out of the district attorney's office," she said. "And only then will we see victims of crimes really be represented well."
Kline said three hires he recently made - including Carpenter - actually increased the experience among prosecutors in the office. Overall, Kline said he has doubled the number of women in key legal leadership positions - from two to four.
Spradling's goal is to be back among that leadership. She said she wants her job back so she can tend to unfinished domestic-violence cases.
"I want to stay a prosecutor; I'd like to stay here," said Spradling, a prosecutor for 15 years. "We'll see what happens."
Scott Gyllenborg, a defense attorney in Olathe, said Spradling is known for her honesty and outspoken nature. He said the same qualities that people respect her for might have led to her firing.
"She cared as much about justice and victims as anyone I know," Gyllenborg said. "Her firing leaves another gaping hole in (the district attorney's) office."