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When No Means No

TDW has learned that the Marion County Prosecutor's Office currently is investigating an internal sexual harassment allegation against Carl Brizzi's chief of staff, John Commons. This would be the second sex scandal Brizzi has endured in almost as many weeks.

For those with short memories, and with full credit to the Star, consider this gem from March 12, and please note who spoke out in defense of Mr. Meisenhelder:

"The Marion County deputy prosecutor who was assistant chief of the sex crimes division was fired this week for sending a romantic e-mail to a 16-year-old girl.

"Jay Meisenhelder, 53, admitted he used poor judgment but insisted he broke no laws.

"'I didn't really think about the ultimate appearance of this because it was a friendship, and I didn't realize that I was looking at this as anything other than a friendship, initially,' Meisenhelder said. 'I will just say that nothing I did was illegal. It was a completely nonsexual relationship.'

"Hired in 1997, Meisenhelder was fired Tuesday by Prosecutor Carl Brizzi after Brizzi's office received a copy of the e-mail Meisenhelder sent to the girl the day before.

"In the e-mail, obtained through Indiana's open records law, Meisenhelder repeatedly told the girl he loved her.

"'I'm 53-years-old, and believe me, I know what love is -- I know how it feels,' Meisenhelder wrote. 'I love you as I have only loved two other women in my life. I also know that my feelings are not going to change anytime soon.'

"There is no evidence that Meisenhelder committed a crime, said John Commons, Brizzi's chief of staff.

"According to a memo placed in Meisenhelder's personnel file Thursday, at a recent meeting with the girl, "he turned the lights down, lit a candle, made non-alcoholic Bananas Foster for them and played music from the sound track of 'Phantom of the Opera.'"

More to come on this latest allegation, no doubt.

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And who can forget this inter-office tale of romance and woe from November 15, 2003? It seems like working in the prosecutor's office has a few more benefits than ordinary government employment:

"A top deputy in the Marion County prosecutor's office has been suspended while a special prosecutor investigates accusations surrounding his breakup with a 22-year-old paralegal.

"Ralph Staples, the supervisor of felony prosecutions, and Robin Chariton, who oversees the office's citizen complaint desk, have been suspended with pay. The suspensions follow an incident late Tuesday when Chariton went to Staples' apartment and, police say, broke his door. Staples called police.

"At the request of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, Superior Court Judge Cale Bradford on Friday handed the investigation into whether criminal charges should be filed to a special prosecutor -- Barry Brown from Monroe County.

"'We are charged as prosecutors to uphold and enforce the laws. We are held to the highest standards of accountability,' Brizzi said. 'We wanted to make sure that the allegations were fully and fairly investigated by someone outside the office.'

"Chariton said she and Staples had been dating for four years and broke up Tuesday night. Staples told police the couple had split three weeks before.

"Brizzi said he learned of the couple's relationship three weeks ago and told Staples to 'end it.' The prosecutor is adopting a non-fraternization policy as a result of the incident. The details of that policy are still being drafted, but Brizzi said it would take effect next week."

The dude threw on a cut from "The Phantom of the Opera" to set the mood? It's possible that he, like former New Jersey governor, James McGreevey, is a gay American. I'm just throwin' it out there.

Right, and he met the girl while they were both performing in "Annie" at a local theatre.

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