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Jackson County Sheriff Resigns Over Sexual Relationship With Office Employee

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

This story was updated Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. with comments from the county prosecutor.

This story was updated at 2:00 p.m. with information from Sharp's resignation letter.

In a stunning development, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp has admitted to a "personal failing" in connection with a sexual relationship with an employee and has resigned the post he has held since 2009, effective Thursday.

Sharp and an employee in his office named Christine Lynde  had an "ongoing romantic, sexual and financial relationship", according to documents filed in a sexual harassment case Lynde filed against the county in 2015. The court documents say that Sharp "approved multiple promotions and pay raises for Plaintiff (Lynde) during her tenure" at the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, "making her, at the time, the highest paid civilian employee" there.

In a four sentence letter to County Executive Frank White and County Legislature Clerk Mary Jo Spino Sharp said he was resigning "to avoid further disruption to the important work of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office." 

"I allowed my judgment as Sheriff and my obligations to Jackson County be (sic) clouded because of my feelings for someone I cared very deeply for in the past," Sharp said in a statement Wednesday. "This was a personal failing and is entirely my responsibility."

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says she was aware of the allegations and "began our own investigation into the matter," she said in a statement. Baker called the episode "extremely troubling."

County officials were sorting through what happens next. But the county charter says: "If the office of Sheriff becomes vacant, the county executive shall appoint, as provided in this charter, a person of the same political party as the previous hold office until January 1 following the next general election." The next general election is Nov. 6.

Sharp comes from a law enforcement family. His biography on the Office website said his great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all police officers or deputy sheriffs. Sharp spent 26 years with the Kansas City Police Department.

Sam Zeff is KCUR's Metro Reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff