Raleigh County Circuit Court Clerk resigns after workers “blow the whistle”

BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — For months employees of the Raleigh County Circuit Clerk’s office were subjected to degrading speech and demonstrations about Black people, immigrants, indigenous people, women and the LGBTQ+ community, Beckley attorney Robert Dunlap alleged.

Dunlap said on Monday, February 12, 2024, that alleged comments by Raleigh County Circuit Clerk Bob McComas, a Republican who was elected in November 2022.

“Culturally inappropriate statements, or politically (incorrect) statements, that’s not what we’re talking about,” Dunlap said. “It’s more than just an inappropriate joke. The things you’re referencing with respect to the Klan, they’re not something to pinch a cheek. We’re talking about hate groups. We’re talking about hate groups that have taken lives.”

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The Circuit Clerk is elected by voters but is employed by the Raleigh County Commission.

Dunlap said a number of workers believed they had a civic responsibility to speak out about it, but he said there was no clear path for them in the administration to report the alleged behavior.

“Despite the size of how many employees Raleigh County employer is, they don’t have an HR department, so there aren’t clear protocols, whenever you feel uncomfortable, or unsafe, or violated in the workplace, there aren’t clear protocols for how you would report such things,” he said.

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield, along with Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Chief Investigator Jeff Shumate, and Raleigh County Commission investigated the allegations against McComas, and McComas, a retired West Virginia State Police trooper, resigned from the position, effective Monday.

McComas’ resignation occurred within two weeks of Hatfield’s office gaining knowledge of the allegations, according to statements made earlier by the prosecutor.

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However, Dunlap and his staff told 59News that a Human Resources Department in Raleigh County is still necessary. Dunlap said county employees should have a clear protocol and designated contact for reporting harassment in county offices and that those who assume leadership positions should be trained and made aware of federal protections in the workplace and their responsibilities to workers.

Raleigh County Attorney Bill Roop confirmed on Monday that there is currently no human resources department in the county. He said the Raleigh County administrator was the designated officer for reporting workplace harassment.

Roop said he will discuss the possibility of a human resources department with the Raleigh County Commission.

Raleigh County Chief Circuit Court Judge Andrew Dimlich will now appoint someone to fulfill the remainder of McComas’ term.

A Democratic and a Republican candidate will appear on the next ballot for the Raleigh County Circuit Court Clerk position.

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