Here we go again. A third sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against Hinds County Sheriff Victor Mason in U.S. District Court yesterday. Deputy Belendia Jones made several lurid allegations against Sheriff Mason in her lawsuit. Lieutenant Tamekia Barnes and former Chief Deputy Cheryl Matory filed similar lawsuits against the Sheriff last month.
Ms. Jones served as a volunteer in the Sheriff Mason's 2011 campaign. The complaint states her dad was the Sheriff's barber until he died. She was a reserve deputy but Sheriff Tyrone Lewis apparently fired her when he learned she was supporting candidate Mason. Ms. Jones alleges that Sheriff Mason promised her during the campaign that he would hire her with the rank of sergeant, and send her to a police academy if he became Sheriff. The complaint then delves into the alleged -and salacious- details. The complaint states:
11. During the campaign season, Mason often spoke to Jones by telephone. On many occasions, Mason pretended Mrs. Wilson, a fictional character, wanted Jones questions about Mason. During those telephone calls, Mason would ask Jones the questions supposedly posed by Mrs. Wilson. After the telephone calls, Mason would text Jones and quiz her on Mrs. Wilson's calls.
12. After Mason won the sheriff's election in November of 2015, he texted Jones and stated: "Question 1 was? Jones, what was question #1?" Jones responded: "lf you were handsome and the answer was NO! BONE HEAD." Mason replied and stated: "Question 2." Jones responded: "If u dressed nicely. Answer was yes." Mason texted back an said: "Lol. Question 3. Lol." Jones responded: "If I wanted to fuck you and the answer was NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO."
13. On or about November 19, 2015, Mason texted Jones and stated "Question 3? Jones responded: "If you wanted to f*** me." Mason responded: "What the hell is ****? Man, you better come with it." Jones replied: "Spell check did that I didn't. Mason responded and said: "Your black ass got 30 seconds. Times up." Jones texted back and told Mason: "I didn't get the last text." Mason told Jones: "Play crazy." Jone responded: "If u wanted to fuck me. Seriously." Mason texted: "Question 3?" Jone responded "If u wanted to fuck me." Mason responded ''Thank you Sgt. Jones. Lol."
14. Jones told Mason: "My dad is going to get you." Mason stated: "You think so? Jones said: "Yes he is." Mason replied: "Is that before or after you fuck me?" Jone responded and said: "Both cause I'm not fucking u!" Mason texted Jones and said: "Yes you are witch." Jones responded "No I'm not! Yucky!"
15. On or about November 21, 2015, Mason texted Jones and told her "whomever you're dining with tonight don't give him any pussy." Jones responded: "Kml!" Mason esponded: "what?" Jones responded: ""Killing myself laughing....km!." Mason texted back and said "Oh ok."
Sheriff Mason hired Ms. Jones as a sergeant in the background investigation department in January 2016. The complaint states the texts resumed:
On or about January 25, 2016, Mason texted Jones and stated: "Wanna make a deal?" Jones asked: "What's the deal?" Mason directed Jones to "Resite (sic) question 3." Jones stated "Mrs. Wilson wanted to know if I wanted to fuck you! Ughh!" On or about January 26, 2016, Mason texted Jones and said: "I'm outside are you going to let me in. I brought wine." Jones responded: "No you are not."
17. On or about February 9, 2016, Mason texted Jones and asked: "are you ready to say question 3?" Jones did not respond. Mason texted Jones again and told her "Ignoring me is very dangerous." Mason told Jones: "I don't give a flip. I'm calling back and you will say it." Jones asked Mason: "Why r u torching (torturing) me?!" Mason responded: "Cause I can. You ready? Jones responded: "No." Mason replied and said: "Get ready if you don't you'll suffer." Jones replied: No!"
18. On March 8, 2016, Mason texted Jones and said "Jonzey." Jones responded: "Yes sir?" Mason said: "give me some." Jones said "I'll think about it." Mason said "Are you serious? Hello." Mason responded: "Don't play with me." Jones said: "I'll think about it." Mason told Jones: "Stop repeating yourself." Jones responded "That's all I have to say."
19. Mason responded: "Why? Give me some hope. Jones?" Jones stated, "Yes, I gave u hope by saying I will think about it." Mason responded: "I'm serious. Are you?" Jones texted Mason and said "U suppose to look after me, not bone me." Mason responded: "I'll have your unit number tomorrow. Don't you want to give me some? Tell the truth." Jones stated: "It flew fast in my mind n I dismissed it just as fast."
20. Mason asked: "Are you trying to be funny? Jones stated: "I'm really not." Mason stated: "so do you want to give me some or not. Forget all that I'll think about jazz." Jones stated "you know I can't do that." Mason responded: "Why I want to give you some." Jones replied: "I know, probably since the day I met u." Mason asked: "So I won't ever get any from you?" Jones told Mason: "I honestly don't know." Mason responded: "Ok be like that. But just remember one thing?" Jones responded: "Yes." Mason told Jones: "I need to fuck you." Jones asked Mason: "Why do you feel you need to do that."
21. On or about March 26, 2016, Mason texted Jones and asked her: "Why did you put Yucky at the end of Ms. Wilson's statement? No so that statement didn't count. So, do it again but leave the YUCKY off. Do it and I'm not playing. NOW JONES NOW."
22. On April 3, 2016, Mason texted Jones and stated "Question 3. Oh, you know bousy (sic). See how you do me. Stop lying and don't start whining."
23. Throughout Jones's tenure as a sergeant, Mason texted Jones and demanded sexual favors. When Mason finally realized that Jones had no intentions of being sexually involved with him, Mason's attitude toward Jones changed. While Mason was asking Jones for sexual favors, he promised her he would rectify the discrepancy in her pay.
Then came some alleged retaliation:
24. Before Jones joined HCSD, Mason promised her she would earn $4,012.10 monthly, an increase in what Jones earned on her other job. When Jones joined HCSD, she was not paid $4,012.10 monthly. Jones earned approximately $2,100.00 month, less than what she earned in the position she left to work for HCSD.
25. On July 5, 2016, Mason demoted Jones from Sergeant in the Background Investigations Department where she worked at the downtown office and transferred her to a less prestigious position of records clerk at the Raymond Detention Center. As a result of the demotion, Jones's salary was reduced again.
However, the complaint states the environment changed after former Chief Deputy Cheryl Matory filed a sexual harassment complaint against Sheriff Mason:
26. After Mason demoted Jones, he refused to speak to her on most occasions. Immediately after her demotion, Jones requested a meeting with Mason. Mason refused to meet with her. That abruptly changed in December of 2016 after former undersheriff Cheryl Matory filed suit against Mason for sexual harassment.
27. Upon information and belief, Mason asked a mutual friend to invite Jones to a meeting at Mason's office. When Jones arrived, Mason asked if she was recording him. Mason told Jones that he felt they needed to clear the air. Mason told Jones "I will apologize if I was wrong." Mason explained that there was a lot of internal strife in the HCSD.
28. Mason told Jones that he had received a couple of calls from individuals who reported Jones was showing text messages between the two of them. Mason explained that he had a situation recently that he had to diffuse with his wife. Mason asked Jones why was she showing the text messages.
29. Mason told Jones: "You have to believe in me the way I believe in you. You have no idea the gun I'm under. The very people I tried to help stabbed me." Mason told Jones he was going to rectify the situation and she would soon get a call from Rick Van Egmond, HCSD's Training Director.
30. On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, Jones received a call from Rick Van Egmond who scheduled an appointment to meet with Jones on February 22, 2017 to discuss her placement in the HCSD's class for certified law enforcement officer.
Ms. Jones charged the Sheriff with sexual harassment by creating a hostile work environment, sex discrimination, breach of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint asks for damages and attorney's fees. Attorney Lisa Ross represents the plaintiff. The case was assigned to Judge William Barbour.