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Former Smith County elections official faces previous allegations of bullying employees

‘Denise was a bully’ co-workers say
Denise Hernandez, 54
Denise Hernandez, 54(Smith County Jail)
Published: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:39 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The coworkers of a former Smith County elections official who was arrested for putting a medication in their drinks without their knowledge called her a bully in the arrest affidavit.

Denise Ann Hernandez, 54, was arrested after being accused of knowingly and recklessly causing bodily injury to some of her coworkers by putting a colon-cleanse medication in their drinks without their knowledge or consent, causing bodily injury.

The alleged assault happened on or about April 27, 2021, in the Smith County Courthouse annex building on E. Ferguson St. in Tyler, in the elections department. A detective read the written statements of the victims of the alleged assault, as well as the statements of witnesses who had knowledge of the incident. The act of the colon cleanse being added to the victim’s drinks without their knowledge and with disregard to their pre-existing medical conditions caused their conditions to be amplified and caused them pain, the detective stated.

One of the victims gave the detective a statement and told him that Hernandez was her supervisor in the elections department, and that they were working together on April 27. She said she was telling another coworker about something she was concerned about when Hernandez left the room. When she came back she allegedly gave each of them a cup of pink liquid that Hernandez described as Spark Energy Drink. They both drank the drinks. Hernandez asked them if they had finished their drinks, which they had.

They say she then placed a canister of colon cleanse on the counter and started making fun of them for drinking it, and singing “You just drank colon cleanser!” in a childish manner.

The next day, Hernandez continued to make fun of the women, one of whom had a medical condition that was made worse by the colon cleanse liquid. The affidavit said she experienced pain, as well as the embarrassment inflicted by Hernandez. She said that she was afraid to say anything because Hernandez was a bully and she didn’t want to lose her job.

The woman said she decided to file charges against Hernandez, stating that Denise finds it funny to pick on them at work, and called her a bully, according to the arrest affidavit. She said there were previous incidents wherein Hernandez would poke the woman’s breast or make fun of her in other ways.

Two men who are employed by Smith County were interviewed by the detective as well. The men were present on April 27, assisting with the election process. They both stated that they heard Denise Hernandez talk about putting the substance in the drinks and described her as bragging about the act. They said Hernandez is “head strong,” and a bully. Their statements corroborated with the statements of the victims, the detective said.

An arrest warrant was issued on May 26 by Judge Kerry Russell. Hernandez was arrested on June 1 on two charges of assault causing bodily injury and held on $20,000 bond. She bonded out the same day.

The information in the affidavit was redacted to protect the victims’ identities and their medical conditions.

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