CLAY COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — The indictments against Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde reveal the details of his three most recent charges for official oppression, including allegations of sexual harassment by several female employees of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
The KFDX Newsroom has obtained copies of the indictments against Sheriff Lyde, which were previously sealed prior to his being booked on Monday night. The indictments were filed on Thursday, December 29, 2022,
According to the indictments, Sheriff Lyde is accused of subjecting three female employees of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to sexual harassment. The indictments said two of the charges involved “sexual harassment by verbal conduct of a sexual nature” and the third charge involved “sexual harassment by physical conduct of a sexual nature.”
One indictment alleges that in September 2022, Sheriff Lyde discussed the breasts of a female employee of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, as well as “the breasts of another Clay County Sheriff’s Office employee that he claimed to have personally seen”. That indictment also alleges Sheriff Lyde showed the complainant pictures on his computer of female breasts.
A second indictment from the Clay County grand jury alleged that in December 2022, Sheriff Lyde sexually harassed another female employee by referring to her as “Star Trek” and telling her that he “wanted to go where no man has ever gone”.
According to the third indictment, Sheriff Lyde is accused of slapping a female employee of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office on the buttocks with his hand in August 2022.
The cases were developed and presented to the grand jury by 46th District Attorney Staley Heatly of Vernon with the assistance of a Texas Ranger. Heatly was appointed as a special prosecutor for the cases.
On Monday, January 2, 2023, Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde turned himself in on three new charges of official oppression. Clay County Judge Mike Campbell said Lyde met at the jail with Texas Rangers and new Justice of the Peace Lanny Evans around 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, and posted bail.
Campbell said Heatly brought allegations against Sheriff Lyde to the grand jury last week, which handed down three sealed indictments. No one knew what those indictments were until Monday evening.
This case will be filed with the district clerk’s office Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, and Campbell said if there is another petition to remove Lyde as sheriff, Lyde would have five days to respond.
The case would then be heard by 97th District Court Judge Jack McGaughey.
The three new charges are the latest in a series of alleged controversies involving Sheriff Lyde since he took office in 2021.
The KFDX newsroom confirmed with 97th Judicial District Attorney Casey Hall by way of an open record request on Friday, December 9, 2022, that Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde is among the three names on the Brady list of law enforcement personnel with known credibility issues or misconduct allegations for the 97th District.
Before that, in September 2022, Clay County Commissioners voted 4-1 to remove Lyde from the Clay County Hospital Board, and a hearing was set for October 14, 2022. Lyde was given the option to resign but chose not to until the morning of the removal hearing.
A little over a week prior to the hearing, on October 3, 2022, Sheriff Lyde was named a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed against Clay County alleging a Fourth Amendment violation in the termination of a former county employee.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiff, Ashley Culley, who formerly served as the IT administrator for Clay County, was arrested by Sheriff Lyde on a warrant “based on a sham arrest affidavit, despite there actually being no probable cause that she had committed any crime.”
According to the lawsuit, Sheriff Lyde allegedly disliked Culley due to her sexual orientation, and her arrest for a “baseless criminal charge” led to her being relieved of her duties.
Sheriff Lyde was charged with two counts of official oppression in November of 2021. The indictment alleges that in July of 2021, the sheriff intentionally held two inmates in jail longer than 48 hours, without a finding of probable cause by a magistrate.
Following Sheriff Lyde’s indictment, in May of 2022, Special Prosecutor Staley Heatly was expected to file a notice that the prosecution planned to address past wrongdoings by Lyde prior to his time as the sheriff of Clay County.
Among the further allegations that could be introduced in court, possibly to try to prove Lyde has shown a pattern of wrong-doing and should be removed from office, is that Lyde submitted paperwork on multiple occasions with false information between April 2010 and April 2011 in Guadalupe County.
The notice states in June of 2011, Lyde improperly contacted a witness which was interpreted as an attempt to discourage the witness from cooperation with the investigator.