Lake County Recorder Michael B. Brown

Lake County Recorder Michael B. Brown

CROWN POINT — Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter announced Monday he will not charge the county recorder with sexual or official misconduct.

Carter said Monday an Indiana State Police investigation he requested last spring didn't find any evidence Lake County Recorder Mike B. Brown compelled a former part-time employee, Estela Montalvo, to have sex with him to get a promotion.

Carter said the evidence state police collected indicates Brown and Montalvo had a consensual affair that Montalvo initiated in an unsuccessful attempt to win a full-time job as a deputy recorder with insurance and pension benefits. 

"Having an affair is not a crime," Carter said.

Montalvo triggered the investigation in the spring when she sued Brown and the county government in U.S. District Court in Hammond on allegations Brown sexually harassed her and created a hostile workplace. No trial date has been set in the federal civil suit.

Calls for comment to Montalvo, her attorney and Brown weren't returned.

Carter said he wouldn't comment on the civil suit, but believes he would have been unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, Brown had solicited or accepted sex or anything else of value from his employees in return for employment.

Carter said he isn't charging Montalvo with any wrongdoing either.

State Police Detective John Holmen interviewed 25 former and present employees and searched, without success, for any video, audio or text messages that would confirm a sexual relationship conditioned on sexual favors.

Carter made public Monday a copy of Holmen's report to the prosecutor's office in which he states Montalvo said she and Brown first met when they both ran for election as county recorder in 2012. Brown won the election.

She applied to work in the office. Brown didn't immediately hire her, but she did start work there in August 2014.

Montalvo said Brown began flirting with her and complementing her appearance, with comments like, "Wearing that, you can do whatever you want here."

Brown told Holmen that Montalvo tried to flirt with him, but he rejected her advances.

Montalvo told the detective she texted Brown in February 2015 after the office had closed for the day that "she had something to show him." She said Brown returned to the office and they began kissing.

She said Brown invited her to his Hobart apartment. She refused at first, but after a couple of days she went to his apartment where they first had sex.

She said they had sex several times between February and December 2015 in either his office or his apartment. Carter said it was unclear whether the office sex took place during or after business hours.

Brown denied he had any sexual contact with Montalvo.

The detective said Montalvo said she initiated a relationship with Brown to get a full-time job with insurance and pension benefits after hearing Brown had previously had sex with several other female employees.

"I just figured, maybe, you know, if I give him something, maybe he will give me something in return," Montalvo stated according to Holmen's report.

Brown said he had a relationship several years ago with one woman, who is now an employee, but it ended amicably. He denied he requested sex with Montalvo.

The report states Montalvo sent Brown a nude photo of herself. Brown said he recalls her sending him a "provocative" but not a nude photo.

Montalvo said Brown only promised to promote her until after she worked for Brown's 2016 re-election, but never did. She said she resigned from the recorder's office in February, ahead of a layoff of a dozen part-time employees.

She told Holmen she left because she didn't want to be pressured either by Brown or her co-workers who had heard rumors about the relationship.

Brown said he tried to help her get a job with the City of Hammond, but that job didn't materialize. He told Holmen he often helped find work for former employees.

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Lake County reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.