Woman claims board member tried to ruin her reputation
The former Woodford County supervisor of assessments filed suit against the County Board and one board member specifically, saying she was publicly called a liar and accused of having an affair.
Laurie Epkins filed the civil suit Sept. 19 against the County Board and board member Pete Lambie, seeking more than $50,000 as well as asking for an undetermined dollar amount for exemplary and punitive damages.
In the lawsuit, a note from Tazewell County Treasurer Duane A. Gray states that he received an anonymous letter about Epkins having an illicit affair with a Tazewell County official, and that Lambie, who received the letter from Gray, then spread the rumor to Epkins’ staff and other Woodford County officials.
The suit goes on to say Lambie called Epkins a "habitual liar" during a County Board meeting in which there was discussion about reassessing the township where he lives. Lambie also serves as the Spring Bay Township assessor.
"These words were false," the court document states. "(Lambie) knew they were false when speaking them, or, if he believed them to be true, lacked reasonable grounds for that belief."
The suit states Lambie’s actions were intended to harm Epkins’ name and reputation, "to bring her into public disgrace and scandal."
Several calls to Lambie’s home Tuesday went unanswered. Epkins’ attorney, Don Jackson, did not return a phone message.
Lambie, the county’s longest-serving board member, had been accused last year of acting "inappropriate, intimidating and hostile" supposedly toward Epkins — in relation to the tax assessment issue — and as such, the County Board voted unanimously Nov. 9 for him to "cease all statements and conduct" that would violate the county’s discrimination and harassment policy.
Epkins also has filed suit with the state’s Department of Human Rights. Two charges, against Lambie and Woodford County, are currently pending investigations and are not subject to inspection and copying, according to the IDHR.
Dave Haney can be reached at (309) 686-3181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.