That’s Sheriff Control Freak to you.
A recently retired sheriff in Minnesota created an "abhorrent" blackmail scheme under the alias "Control Freak" to sexually harass one of his female employees, according to an independent investigative report.
Rick Duncan of the Chisago County Sheriff's Office is now under criminal investigation, according to KSTP-TV in St. Paul. The county hired a law firm to review the incidents.
Duncan wrote letters to the coworker as “Control Freak,” telling her she had to take a weekend trip with Duncan or else the writer would hurt her family, the report said. Under the scheme, the sheriff would pretend to receive these letters and then pass them on to the employee, who is unnamed in the report.
The woman was afraid and confused at first. But then the letters started to seem “too strange to be true,” according to the report.
The sheriff often gave his own commentary at the top of each email or letter from “Control Freak.” In one he wrote: “I do think this guy is crazy and could do anything but he is smart.” He suggested it would be best for them to follow the letter’s instructions, because he said he couldn't think of legitimate avenues for investigating the threats. “We have nothing,” he wrote.
After the sheriff suggested the blackmailer might eventually want them to have sex, he added, "I think we can do whatever we have to and bring it to the grave with us and still have a strong relationship with our spouses… I don't think we have a choice."
The plan would be for Duncan and the woman to go to a weekend conference in Bemidji, a town hours away from Chisago County, in November 2017. As laid out in the letters, they would have to drive together and get a hotel room with a single king-sized bed. The letter suggested they bring bathing suits.
For a time, it seemed the woman would comply. When the sheriff learned his plan was working, he forgot to keep up the menacing act: “That is perfect! This sounds like a great trip,” he wrote as “Control Freak” in one of the blackmail letters.
The letter taunted the female worker at one point, saying she is a “pathetic” person who doesn’t get out of her comfort zone. It expressed amazement that she might follow through with the commands. "I want you to challenge yourself and do things that you might not do otherwise," it said.
The sheriff apparently took that letter as an opportunity for flirting, commenting as himself, “that’s pretty harsh :)”
The woman eventually told Duncan she would not go on the trip and would take her chances with the blackmailer. He told her he would keep trying to apprehend the culprit.
In February, the woman filed a complaint with human resources. The next month, Duncan announced on his Facebook page that he would run for his third term as sheriff of Chisago County. But in April, he abruptly announced he would retire, citing health issues.
In late April, Duncan sent an email to his attorney: "I, and only I, am the source of the emails and text in regard to the current inquiry," he wrote.
According to a 2011 profile of Duncan in a local publication called The Lowdown, he is a Chisago County native, who graduated from the local high school. He has been married to his wife for more than 20 years and they have three sons together.