This story was originally published July 25, 2013
Bartow, FL -- The judge at the center of a sex scandal at the Polk County Courthouse is denying the allegations made by a now-fired judicial assistant.
Judge Susan Flood was at work today.
"I'm okay. I'm devastated, but I'm here at work doing my job. I don't think there's any disagreement in the courthouse about my commitment to my work," she said.
On Wednesday, Alisha Rupp -- who shared a workspace with Judge Flood while working as a judicial assistant for Judge Beth Harlan -- alleged an extra-marital affair between Judge Flood and Flood's bailiff James Maxcy.
That and other issues, she said, had created a hostile work environment.
On Wednesday, Rupp filed a sexual harassment complaint at her attorney David Linesch's office in Palm Harbor.
Chief Judge Bruce Smith re-opened the investigation to allow former judicial assistant Alisha Rupp another chance to tell her side.
At a news conference, Rupp said in September 2012 she had walked into Judge Flood's office and witnessed Judge Flood and Bailiff Maxcy having sex on a table.
Rupp made several other allegations as well.
She claimed earlier Judge Flood had asked Rupp to make it appear as though she was having an affair with Maxcy.
Rupp also claimed Maxcy made sexual advances toward her, made crude remarks, told her she'd lose her job if she came forward, forced her against a wall, and even threatened her once with a taser.
"That is wrong and it's against everything in the judicial system that I've been a part of for the past 15 years," Rupp said.
Today, Judge Flood spoke with 10 News, denying the allegations "categorically".
"These allegations are false and baseless and they are denied," she said.
"I've been in better shape," she admitted. "When you raise your hand for this job you have to have a thick skin. These allegations I did not expect."
Judge Flood was also candid regarding the stresses this had already placed on her.
"Of course I'm concerned about my children, my marriage and my career," she said.
Judge Flood said she hadn't spoken to Maxcy since the allegations were made.
"He was at work yesterday morning, but was then in meetings with the sheriff's office," said Judge Flood.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office oversees the court bailiffs.
PCSO has suspended bailiff Maxcy while it conducts its own administrative and criminal investigations of Rupp's allegations.
Rupp claims she was fired in retaliation for being a whistle-blower and threatening to come forward with sexual harassment claims.
But Polk County Court Administrator Nick Sudzina said Rupp was fired for repeated errors on her time sheets as well as using her position as a judicial assistant to threaten an animal control officer who had recently issued her a citation.
Rupp had been given an opportunity to discuss her side of the issue during an internal investigation, but court officials said she declined to appear at that meeting.
Rupp's attorney said his client had no reason to assume she'd receive fair treatment at the hearing and that the court administration's allegations support that assertion.
"You know, it is interesting. Never report sexual harassment because if you do we're gonna get you and were gonna drag up stuff that happened a year or year and a half ago?" said Linesch.
Today, Polk County Chief Judge Bruce Smith said that he had decided to re-open the court administration's internal investigation even though they had already concluded Rupp's allegations were baseless and unfounded.
"We're reopening the case again," said Judge Smith, who will wait "before submitting their findings to the Judicial Qualification Commission".
Judge Smith said the only part of the investigation which would be readdressed was offering Rupp "another opportunity to come in and speak, but I doubt she will".
Judge Flood, asked pointedly about the nature of her relationship with bailiff Maxcy, again denied any inappropriate relationship.
"We've all been friends in our judicial suite," said Judge Flood.
It's the suite they shared with Rupp and Judge Beth Harlan.
If friends, why then would Rupp make such a potentially-devastating allegation?
"I would not begin to speculate on her motives," said Judge Flood.