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Eau Claire DA Gary King to resign

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Gary King graphic
Gary King
Photo from video clip provided by Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Embattled Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King is going to resign his position.

News 18 has learned King will resign on Aug. 14, 2021.

In a letter to employees on Friday morning, King noted it was in the best interest of the office for him to resign. He also said it would allow work in the office to continue without distractions.

Related: Evers names commissioner to investigate claims against King

King did not give any indication in his letter why he picked the Aug. 14 date for the resignation to take effect. A source within the DA's office told News 18 he suspects the month will give King time to shift his caseload to other prosecutors and "ensure continuity."

As WQOW first reported, King is accused of sexual harassment and drinking on the job.

Public records show King was instructed not to work alone with some county employees following complaints of harassment. Also, during a hearing for a murder case in February, King reportedly declined a breathalyzer test after he appeared to be impaired while in court. Judge Sarah Harless postponed a hearing after King allegedly blew a 0.047 into a breathalyzer.

Two former assistant DAs wrote letters to Gov. Evers, calling for King to be removed.

In a response, King says he takes "great issue" with the claims the assistant DAs made. You can read King's letter to Gov. Evers below. (App users can read it here.)

Related: DA King’s attorney says he has ‘served the community with distinction’

King's attorney Hal Harlowe calls King's work ethic "unimpeachable." You can also read his remarks below.

Members of the media,

Today Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King made the difficult decision to tender his resignation to Gov. Tony Evers.

His decision was driven by his belief that a potentially drawn-out process would disrupt the important operations of the DA’s office while causing additional stress to the prosecutors and staff.  His goal is to make certain that the office continues to operate at a level of efficiency that places it among the very best in the state.

In speaking to people in the DA’s office, as well as defense attorneys who are familiar with Gary’s work, I have learned that his performance as district attorney, his work ethic and his dedication to public service is unimpeachable.  He has always prioritized protecting the office and the public, while working to improve the criminal justice system.

As a former district attorney for Dane County, I can attest to his dedication in the face of a demanding workload, as he also sought to improve a criminal justice system in need of reform.

Gary spearheaded the significant expansion of diversion programs that gave second chances to people who earn them, while freeing up already overburdened assistant DA’s to focus on the most serious crimes.  He played a critical role in developing guidelines that resulted in uniform, fair sentences.  I am also impressed with how he introduced innovations that allow his office to operate at a high level of efficiency.  His reforms have translated to a DA’s office that better protects the public and that treats victims and their families with respect.

As he notes in the letter he sent today to Gov. Evers, he leaves the office in good shape and in the hands of colleagues he trusts and knows will continue the high level of service people have come to expect from his office.

After a decade of extensive hours and giving all he had to the job, leaving this position is also in his best interests.  People both in and outside of the office say that for ten years Gary devoted all he had to the job, working absurdly long hours, never taking a vacation or stepping away from the pressure-cooker stress inherent in such a position.

Although it comes at great personal cost, Gary will now have an opportunity to turn attention towards his personal health and wellbeing, while working in the private sector.

Hal Harlowe

The position of District Attorney carries with it a large responsibility to seek justice for the people of Eau Claire County.  As such, and based on the allegations that have been made about Attorney King, we would agree that Attorney King’s decision  to step down from his position as District Attorney is the right decision, and the right thing to do to end the ongoing disruption to the work of the employees of the District Attorney’s Office and the justice system in Eau Claire County.    

Eau Claire County Administrator Kathryn Schauf

Clint Berge

Clint Berge is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager for Eau Claire’s Own WQOW News 18.
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