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Posted on Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor judge was accused of 'sexually charged behavior' before resigning from bench

By Ryan J. Stanton

Julie Creal, who resigned this past week as chief judge of Ann Arbor's 15th District Court, was embroiled in a lawsuit that was settled for $82,500 before she left the bench.

Some have questioned whether Creal's resignation had anything to do with the lawsuit, which included allegations of sexual harassment against her, but court officials maintain Creal is leaving because of ill health and they regret to see her go. obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which was filed by Wayne Wade, a former probation agent with the 15th District Court, in June 2009.

The suit made allegations about "Judge Creal's sexually charged behavior," claiming Wade was uncomfortable with "unwanted physical touching, sexual and flirtatious talk."

"Mr. Wade made at least three complaints that were completely ignored by those who were supposed to investigate them," the lawsuit states. "Shortly after his final complaint of sexual harassment, the defendant retaliated against Mr. Wade, including a reprimand, suspension, and ultimately his termination. Incredibly, one of the stated reasons for the suspension was for alleging sexual harassment against a judge."


Julie Creal

Wade sued the 15th District Court, not Creal personally. The parties agreed to settle the case for $82,500, inclusive of Wade's legal costs, shortly before trial was set to begin this year.

Circuit Judge Timothy Connors denied the defendant's motion to dismiss the case before it was set to go to trial.

"At that point, everybody was ready for this case not to go to trial," said Nicholas Roumel, the attorney who represented Wade.

Court officials were glad to put the case behind them, too.

"The court and Judge Creal deny any wrongdoing with respect to this matter and were fully prepared to litigate the matter," Court Administrator Keith Zeisloft wrote in an e-mail this past week. "However, given the reality of the high cost of litigation, settling the case was prudent."

Zeisloft said the settlement amount was the estimated cost to win at trial and handle any appeals. Under terms of the settlement agreement, he said, he couldn't comment further.

Creal could not be reached for comment.

Roumel spoke with about the case late last week. He acknowledged he hesitated on whether to take Wade's case originally.

"I had practiced in front of Judge Creal for many years and I knew Wayne Wade from being a probation agent, and I liked them both," he said. "I thought Judge Creal was always fair, and I thought Wayne was a very good probation agent, and he has a good reputation."

Roumel eventually took the case, and he still believes Wade makes a compelling argument that he was retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment.

"Here's a guy who had good and excellent evaluations for six years, including in the middle of the last year that he worked, and he doesn't get any serious employment repercussions until he makes these complaints," Roumel said. "That was suspicious to me."

The lawsuit alleges 15th District Court officials never investigated the sexual harassment charges, but instead conducted a "secret investigation" against Wade, led by Creal, and that produced "false and trumped up charges" against Wade.

The lawsuit claims Wade wasn't given an opportunity to defend himself before his employment was "abruptly terminated" on Jan. 30, 2007.

Wade had worked for the court since July 23, 2001.

According to the lawsuit, Wade received good to excellent performance evaluations up through 2004 when he was selected by Creal to become the coordinator of the Sobriety Court, a new conceptual approach aimed at promoting sobriety in repeat drunken driving offenders.

After the move to the Sobriety Court, Wade's 2005 performance evaluation ranked him between "meets to exceeds" and "outstanding" and Creal recommended he get a higher raise than his fellow probation agents, according to the lawsuit.

"Significantly, in his last performance evaluation before his termination, in June 2006, the defendant indicated that Mr. Wade’s performance was excellent," the lawsuit states.

But Wade grew frustrated with Creal's sexual advances, the lawsuit states, and at least three reports to Probation Supervisor Ann Savickas failed to resolve the issue.

"The defendant never did anything in response to all these complaints of sexual harassment," the lawsuit states. "They instead scrutinized Mr. Wade."

According to the lawsuit, Creal was going through marital difficulties that culminated with her separation from her husband around Thanksgiving 2005.

Creal often confided her problems to Wade, who was having his own issues with marital discord, the lawsuit states, but Wade was increasingly uncomfortable with Creal’s behavior, including physical touching he believed was inappropriate and "sexually charged."

One of the incidents that Wade complained about to Savickas occurred after a session of Sobriety Court in summer 2006, the lawsuit states.

"Mr. Wade was standing at a counter tending to paperwork, when Judge Creal came behind him, wrapped her arms around him, laid her head on his shoulder, and held that embrace for 30-35 seconds, and then commented that she wasn’t getting enough sex," the lawsuit states, adding another employee present commented: "That was a little too much information."

The lawsuit claims Wade told Savickas, "She did it again," and Savickas replied, "Ooh, she must really like you." Wade was so uncomfortable working with Creal that he repeatedly asked to be reassigned from her courtroom, the lawsuit states.

"Ms. Savickas wrote in her notes that on April 12, 2006, Mr. Wade was 'weepy and emotional,' crying twice in two days, and stating that he was uncomfortable with Judge Creal being inappropriate and hugging him," the lawsuit states.

"Despite these red flags, she saw no reason to follow up — but she did see fit to reprimand Mr. Wade for being 'rude and disrespectful' to others," the lawsuit states.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:44 a.m.

Wayne Wade was "abruptly terminated." Since Judge Mattson was Chief Judge at the time of firing, wouldn't Mattson have to sign the papers firing Wade So? maybe she's in the group with Julie, Keith, Ann S..., others because it makes sense that she probably condoned the firing, since she would have signed the papers, right? Did Chief Judge Ann Mattson even talk to Wade or the AA officer who witnessed one of the instances of harrassment. Keith Z says it was prudent to settle because of money blah, blah, blah, if he's so sure he'd win, why not go through the motions of winning and spend the same amount of money. I'm thinking they didn't want Wayne Wade to be given any chance to expose such disgusing behavior by some at the 15th. Wayne wade is so brave, was probably beat down by 15th's lawyers, and he hung in there. He should be made Court Administrator and clean up that place.

James J. Gould

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:19 a.m.

What a beauitful Judge. I'd work for her anytime.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:50 a.m.

Dear Lord, Please watch over J.J.Gould, for he knows not what he says. Amen.

Kai Petainen

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:41 a.m.

i'm impressed with ann's investigative reporting. it's not the norm, but it's nice to see. nicely done.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

You shouldn't be. The investigative reporting only occurred after the's staff was alerted in a related story of this alleged incident. Even then, the investigative reporting should have looked a little deeper into both sides of this lawsuit. When the suit is filed the filing party submits their complaint and the party being sued gets to file a response. Maybe the investigative reporting should include reading the response. This suit also highlights the state of our legal system; that its cheaper to settle a complaint than to have each party have their day in court.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 3:05 a.m.

Mr. Wade decided to take on Goliath in the hopes that justice would prevail and he could get his job or at least his reputation back, but very quickly realized David can't always beat Goliath. He decided to settle because it's impossible to fight the system itself, and because he didn't want to drag his family through the public spotlight. With the publication of this article, he loses yet again. In the end, Mr. Wade was left a broken man, robbed of the career he loved so much. What a shame.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

To Jack - This isn't the only lawsuit. There have been other firings and people leaving because of goings on at 15th. Could have built 5 more expensive fountains in the city of ann arbor. Maybe that is why there are 2 court administrators now (main one and assisistant), Keith z has to handle a lot of juggling.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

@moretothestory: If you have some information, please send it on to: The <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> website is administered by the political action committee People Against Corruption; they are in the process of updating their website.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:14 a.m.

I'm surprised there wasn't a lawsuit sooner than this. I had heard a number of comments regarding this particular judge's behavior. It's much harder for a man to make this claim. My sympathy to Mr. Wade.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 12:24 a.m.

GoodBye good riddance,

Old Salt

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

Is Judge Cearl in anyway related to former Mayor Creal


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : midnight

yes, her grandfather


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Granddaughter : <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

&quot;Sexually charged &quot; as a headline/descriptor sounds like using a credit card for a hooker......evidently not the case here.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

What a mess. What is WRONG with people?! Male or female, this situation stinks. ( should qualify that statement, that the story is ALLEGED to be true) I think both parties could use some counseling.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

The sense of Discernment : Indian Tradition believes that the Lord God Creator has implanted great knowledge in the corporeal substance of living entities and the presence of this knowledge is reflected in their function called consciousness. Hence, all living entities are conscious beings and they are endowed with a sense of discernment. It is natural to have sexual instincts and experience sexual desire. But Indian thinkers have contemplated and stated that living entities use sense of discernment in matters that pertain to sexual conduct and behavior. Sexual Morality is an ingrained behavior and living entities have the ability to discern Right from Wrong and they achieve reproductive success without violating the principle of moral discernment. The costs of litigation are high. What about the value of knowledge freely implanted into our substance by the Lord God Creator? Does it have a price tag? I think, there is a price. It is impossible to man or woman to derive a sense of satisfaction in life without using the sense of moral discernment while seeking sexual gratification. When man or woman attempts to obtain gratification of sexual urge or cravings without using discernment, the gratification will not lead to satisfaction and contentment. A life without contentment is miserable and it is a huge price to pay. The Judge has retired and yet has a life to live.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

One thing I am wondering is why Court Administrator Keith Zeisloft and Ms. Savickas still employed by the Court. Zeisloft got his fanny chewed out by City Council member Marcia Higgins several months ago by not having proper accounting figures ready for furnishings and now he speaks on behalf of the &quot;Court&quot; as well as Julie Creal in denying liabilty. A few years back, when the Washtenaw County Probate Court had problems, the Court Administrator Hilary Muscato and Counsel Bradley Geller were asked to resign and did. See Feb. 13, 2004 Detroit Free Press article &quot;Washtenaw Court Shake-up Follows Conservator Report&quot;. Donald Shelton became the Chief Probate Judge Pro Tem at that time. Ann Arbor City Council funds the District Court's operations and should launch an investigation as to who is responsible for inaction in adddressing Wade's allegations. The State Court Administrative Office and Judicial Tenure Commission should likewise investigate as taxpayers' funds are being used to pay out a settlement to someone who claims sexual harassment and the misconduct of a judge is alleged. The JTC has investigated and disciplined judges in the past for sex harassment. It is wholly inappropriate for Zeisloft to make a public announcement exonerating the judge and Court without any meaningful investigation., especially when his own conduct may be at issue. Also it belittles the seriousness of the allegations made by Mr. Wade. Mr Wade should be owed an investigation that is impartial and fair so blame can be meted out. I thank Ryan Stanton and for bringing this case to the public's attention.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

What part did Chief Judge Ann Mattson play in this lawsuit, wasn't she chief judge at the time?


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

Do you think we should look into Court Adminitrators part in this and Stephen Postema's?


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

This is the second major scandal reported in Ann Arbor this year involving a court official in Ann Arbor. Remember the circuit court jury administrator who was arraigned earlier this year in District Court on embezzlement charges? The political action committee People Against Corruption needs to update their website <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

&quot;For quality assurance purposes, this conversation will be monitored.&quot; -- Seems to me like we all better get on that bandwagon. I have, on &quot;special occasions - when I smelled a rat, pulled out a recording device and used a similar phrase before beginning a conversation. If my suspicions are correct, the only alternative for someone like this accused judge, is to object or try to say it's against the rules. One suspicious conversation should be all it takes to decide to announce you'll be recording future conversations. Note that you must announce that you're recording - but that's good tactics as well as a legal requirement. Try to avoid getting yourself in any &quot;they said, I said&quot; situation. Unfortunately, the idea that others - even 'superiors' - are trustworthy has become a laughable notion. In addition, reviewing such recordings can sometimes clear up the meaning of some vague parts of a conversation and increase understanding of what was said. When I went in for consultation prior to major (life saving) surgery, the surgeon readily agreed to let me record our conversation for later review. This proved a great &quot;memory enhancer&quot; since I was stressed and was not really hearing everything that was said.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Michigan Law does NOT require you to &quot; announce &quot; that you are recording a conversation. If you are &quot; participating &quot; in the conversation, it is LEGAL to record same, and use it later to prove your point. Check it out!

Pooh Bear

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

With that being said, it does not always work. My husband did it with his ex-wife and the Friend of the Court and Circuit Judge Timothy Connors would not even listen to it. If they had they would of clearly hear my husband tell this ex-wife he was recording her and the girls, they would clearly her his ex-wife degrade him infront of his 2 daughters and degrade me, but instead he now has been order to have &quot;NO&quot; contact with his daughters.

Pooh Bear

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

I think that is a great idea! Thanks

Michigan Man

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

I too have had women in the workplace comment on my physical appearance, especially the area between my waist and knees! I just let this roll off - latest case was just a couple of years ago where a female health professional commented about physical assets (or lack thereof) at work. Have thought for sometime now that I probably should have reported this and busted her as to profit financially? Men just handle this all too often workplace event in a different manner than women.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

Should they??

Lou Perry

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Over the last 10-years I have appeared, without an attorney, before Judge Creal on both sides of issues. She always was fair taking time to digest the issues and helping a non-attorney with processes. For our local judicial system I am very sad that this has happened.

Michigan Reader

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

@Andy Jacobs--She wasn't conservative, she was liberal.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

You must have represented an interest that aligned with hers, being that of a conservative appointment. I've heard the exact opposite from tenants who had very meritorious cases.

Lets Get Real

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

I am so disgusted with the childish behavior of people who are entrusted with responsibility at all levels of institutions and government. The egotistical, self-importance and entitlement greed is sickening. In this case, the seeming breech of empathetic trust; the emotional, thoughtless unprofessional actions; the spiteful retaliation; the disproportional, overblown accusations; the self-rightous pursuit of an entitled settlement - what? $82,000 of taxpayer money wasn't enough? Are you kidding? That's as much as I earned in the last 4 years! Give me a break. In this world, people do stupid things, say stupid things - often spontaneously without thinking. Sometimes people try to do what is right, and are judged as not having done enough. Sometimes people intervene, and are told to butt out. Everyone judges. We all live in glass houses? Let's Get Real, what we need is a return to sanity. None of us is perfect. You could be next for false accusation, reputation assasination, spiteful words, jealous retalliation, or anything else someone wants to throw at you. Then be saddled with enormous legal fees to salvage your reputation or live with the rumors. I don't know the truth here - I wasn't there. But I'm sick to death of Penn State, Syracuse, Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, the US Congress, Washtenaw County hypocrates and the pervasive corruption. The fall of Rome revisited? God's cleansing of the pagan worshipers? You tell me.

Pooh Bear

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

I ask you why should &quot;anyone&quot; working in the Ann Arbor judicial systen have to toughen up when someone is inappropriate? This judge was making judgements of others yet appears to have made poor judgements herself and Ms. Savickas allowed it to happen more then once


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

Pervasive corruption? Look at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The corruption is a mile deep. Nobody really does anything about it.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

I totally agree, this is way overblown. Her behavior was inappropriate and probably illegal, but the reaction is over the top.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

@CB: Here is a more recent photo : <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Now, with extra time on her hands, she can ride that hog of hers (you go, girl): <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

I would like to see a thorough independent investigation of the happenings at Creal's court in the last 8 years. If there was wrongdoing then there must be consequences for anyone knowingly involved. If a woman had made these allegations, fur would've been flying. Abuse of public office or public sector employment must be punished very harshly.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

if only the unions would allow for action against employees involved in &quot;public sector employment&quot; problems. Why punish &quot;public employment&quot; problems any harder than private sector? So the tax payers can pay for trumped up garbage complaints by lazy employees looking for a payday (in many instances, not all)? Judges should not abuse their positions but there are 2-3 sides to every story and you don't not have enough to go on to start preaching about what really went down - if anything. We have a nations of wimps and trigger happy employees who are offended at the slightest look, gesture or comment. It's sickening but they were trained by society. Thank you PC and &quot;feelings&quot; police - among others.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

Sometimes a peak beneath the judicial robes affords us an unflattering view.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Rather impossible in this case.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

I bet this never happened to Judge Judy.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

Gee, I wonder if this would affect your pension in the private sector?


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

Hey, if I were a lawyer I'd work pro bono.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.



Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

#1 It's a Ann Arbor City Court Not a County Court, Sounds like to me some other heads should be rolling over this as they failed to do their duty.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

This Savickas lady seems pretty inept, &quot;ohhhh she likes you.&quot; Hahaha She should lose her job too!

Pooh Bear

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

If in did &quot;Ms. Savickas wrote in her notes that on April 12, 2006, Mr. Wade was 'weepy and emotional,' crying twice in two days, and stating that he was uncomfortable with Judge Creal being inappropriate and hugging him,&quot; Ann Savickas should go also for not failing to resolve the issue. This alone tells me Mr. Wade had a good case.

Pooh Bear

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

The truth is in todays work place it is a sign of weakness to cry at work weather you are a women or a man. I ask you why should &quot;anyone&quot; working in the Ann Arbor judicial systen have to toughen up when someone is inappropriate? This judge was making judgements of others yet appears to have made poor judgements herself and Ms. Savickas allowed it to happen more then once.

Michigan Man

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

Bear = Perhaps the men of Ann Arbor who work in the judicial system just need to toughen up - men should not have feelings or show their emotions - Is is a sign of weakness for a man to cry at work? I thought enlightened Ann Arbor area workplaces were more tolerant of diverse workforces - I agree - Ms. Savickas needs to move om to her next position - Perhaps she could benefit from sensitivity training or works better with women?


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

A source I know was thoroughly convinced she hated men because she never gave him the time of day in his tenant defense. If she got divorced in 2005 the timing would have been spot on. Can we get a review of her cases and see if there's an apparent gender bias, especially during this timeframe? Maybe she just hated &quot;whiny&quot; tenants in general with their proported silly claims always bothering the landlords and then her.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Whoever was stupid enough to write that Wade was fired for accusing a Judge of sexual harassment should be fired. I hope by now that the County has hired someone who knows the basics of the laws relating to employment discrimination and retaliation. The taxpayers thank you.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

They missed one, they were too busy catching all the other things needed to be hidden from the public


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

Typical bias, had it been a male judge it would be all over the news with allegations (AKA Cain style) Ms. Savickas should also be terminated for failing to perform her job as supervisor. Where is the Union support?


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

It doesn't sound like a lot of money for a case that has been in the court for quite a while, which means that most of the settlement will go to the lawyer for costs and legal fees. Does that mean that the lawyer did not feel the case was strong or does it mean that he was in a weak negotiating position because the defendant knew he did not want to go to trial? Roumel seems to have been involved in a number of high profile cases, such as with former UM police chief Ken Magee, that have ended in negotiated settlements. Maybe the defendants know he doesn't like to go to court.

Pooh Bear

Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

I agree, 82,000 is not much money, while the Judge walks away with a yearly pension after how many years? The story says 8! The tax payers get screwed again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

He lost his job because of this. $82k - legal expenses - contingency fee = $30k at best. Probably not even a year's salary. These initial &quot;off the cuff&quot; settlements are a joke. How about some exemplary damages for the inapropriate behavior + salary &amp; benefits for his lost work? $200k at least.


Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

$82,500 isn't a blockbuster settlement, but it's a significant amount of money.