GALVESTON — A former deputy constable who has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Galveston County testified in court Wednesday that he did not initially report former Precinct 7 Constable Pam Matranga’s alleged lewd behavior to the county’s human resources department out of embarrassment and fear that he would not be taken seriously.

James Gist, 52, said Matranga made repeated, unwanted sexual advances toward him from May to October 2011, including at least one occasion when he said the former constable pulled her shirt over Gist’s head and pressed her breasts against his neck.

He said Matranga went beyond the pranks and “locker room humor” that were common among officers in the constable’s office.  

Matranga used a homophobic slur to refer to Gist when he rejected her advances and peppered her conversation with a “whole list of pseudonyms for her vagina,” once entreating the then-deputy to “help yourself to some duck taco,” Gist said.

A jury of seven men and five women will decide whether Gist, now a sergeant in the Clear Lake Shores Police Department, is entitled to monetary damages for the alleged harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation.

Matranga, who lost a re-election bid in the May 2012 primary, and the Precinct 7 Constable’s Office were named as defendants in the lawsuit filed that same year, but have since been dismissed.

The county retaliated against Gist’s allegations, and through “officers, managing agents and its supervisors,” allowed the harassment to occur, according to the lawsuit.

Gist resigned from the constable’s office in 2011 after the district attorney’s office launched a criminal investigation into allegations that he bugged Matranga’s office, although he was never indicted or charged.

Gist said Wednesday he purchased a video recording device online to try and tape some of Matranga’s alleged harassment, but the device was confiscated before it recorded any lewd behavior. 

Gist said he did not want to approach the county’s human resources without proof of the alleged harassment and was concerned that reporting the behavior could jeopardize his job or the careers of his co-workers. 

“I’m a man in a profession that’s primarily male-dominated,” which also contributed to his reluctance to report the alleged harassment at first, Gist said.

He said Matranga had “pull and clout,” and bragged about her connections to other elected officials in the county.

“She thought she was above the law,” he said.

The county and Matranga have denied any wrongdoing.

The county took no retaliatory action against Gist, who had a duty to report any complaint to the human resources department, according to a motion for summary judgment filed by the county in August. The county took no “tangible employment action” against Gist.

According to the motion, Matranga’s use of the phrase “duck taco” was in disdain of men in the constable’s office, including Gist, who used the phrase “duck sausage” to refer to male genitalia.

The motion also argues that Gist was a prankster, who recorded a video of Matranga after she urinated on the roadside of Interstate 10 while employees of the constable’s office were on a trip to a conference in San Antonio.

Gist said that at the time, Matranga found the video amusing.

The trial is set to resume today in Galveston’s 122nd District Court.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.

(19) comments

Miss Priss

Get ready GDN for some lewd comments in reaction to the use of colorful words in the article. My friend is trying to get her children' reading level up and so she has them read the paper. I can't wait for one of them to ask ....." Mommy - what's a duck taco?"

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

[smile]

Robert Young

This story is one that irks me on several fronts..She mistreated me?
What kind of self respecting man would
allege this..If it was so uninvited. . Get out of the office sissy boy and get back out in the street and do some work..

Chris Gimenez

Matranga was hired by the Bayou Vista PD late last year and she left after a few weeks by walking off the job during the middle of her shift and leaving the city without a police officer on duty. Second-hand talk was that she got pi**sed that someone else got a promotion she thought she deserved.

Mr. Gist is a good guy and those who think oppression by superior officers is okay-whether male or female-only reinforce the Neanderthal image of many in law enforcement. Of course, "self-respecting men" wouldn't run down a woman on the seawall on their motorcycles and then be allowed to leave the scene by other self-respecting men without undergoing a DUI test. Other self-respecting men wouldn't falsify a police report alleging DUI in retaliation because one of their drunken, drug-fueled friends got himself killed.

I'd damn sure rather have Gist show up on a 911 call than Pam Matranga. The woman is bizarre.

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

How about enlightening us on this BV

http://www.khou.com/news/local/Ex-Bayou-Vista-councilman-charged-with-deadly-conduct--119921149.html

Chris Gimenez

Ron (aka, truthserum), I'm always happy to oblige those who are "challenged" in their ability to gather all the data before opening their mouths.

http://www.galvestondailynews.com/news/article_8c06d920-da8f-50a3-8e87-9a47e39830fa.html

http://www.galvestondailynews.com/news/article_9eb828cb-6402-5202-9715-a9b69533207d.html

Let me say this again and I'm going to be really simple in my wording so that even you can understand it.

District Attorney Jack Roady charged me in retaliation for forcing the facts on him about the fraud and misconduct in Bayou Vista involving FEMA monies and current and former elected officials and law enforcement.

He then lied to the AG's Office in order to keep from having to give me my file info and to cover up for his misconduct. Of course he had help in his act of retaliation from Sgt. Bruce Balchunas of the GCSO. I dare either one of these individuals to sue me civilly. They know the last thing they want the public to know is that I'm telling the truth and that they lied.
ChrisGimenez
Bayou Vista

Brian Cann

The "duck taco" sentence may have been the best thing I've ever read in the paper!

Matrangas Duck Taco would be an awesome band name!!! Look for it next year at south by southwest music fest in Austin. I can picture it being a LGBT punk band that plays electric banjos and accordions. Or possibly a S&M themed mariachi band.

Judy Foster

The article says Gist dismissed the case against Matranga. That sums it up in a nutshell. There's No $$$ going after Matranga. The $$$ is with the county. Looks like he's looking for a big payday. Give him nothing00000000.

Richard Moore
Richard Moore

And our taxes go to support this kind of work environment? Regardless of the gender, this group (Constables Office) sounds extremely immature and it is doubtful that the group is needed at all!

Jeffs
Jeff Smith

It's all fun and games until you thrown down the Duck Taco, to now be know as D*** T*** to protect the children.

Mike Leahy

Duck Taco (or perhaps Taco del Pato?)...

Thank you for this, Daily News. I have not had a good laugh in weeks. Heber my friend, please forgive anything negative I have ever said about you, you are the best newspaper editor in America. Phil Bronstein should have come even close to this reporting triumph even once in his heyday.

I am going to see if I can find excuses to work that expression into my conversation at least once per day!

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

I think the trial is over and not in Gist's favor. If so, the daily news needs to do as prominent a story as today's , otherwise they may leave some undeserved lasting damage on Ms Matranga. In terms of doing the job of a constable, she was one of the better ones ever to have come along.

Richard Worth
Richard Worth

100% agreement with Mr. Shelby, outcome of the trial should be front and center. I also agree with his assessment of Ms. Matranga.

Chris Gimenez

It's front and center alright. To the tune of the County being spanked for 647,000 big ones for tolerating Matranga's behavior. Hopefully this will finish off her career in law enforcement.

Miss Priss

I think most of law enforcement would agree with Ron Shelby as well. I know a lot of people in bay shore area were disappointed about the harassment initially are truly sorry to see her gone from that office.

Chris Gimenez

I never cease to be amazed how you always believe that "most" of you name it-politicians, the public, law enforcement, baby-sitters, etc.-would agree with you and Ron Shelby. If they were so disappointed why did she get un-elected?

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

See my comment for BV below.

Chris Gimenez

See my reply to little Ron below.

Mike Leahy

0720, Friday morning and I have succeeded in working "Duck Taco" into my speech already today! Really, thanks again for this!

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