Dallas DA Spent Time in Drug Rehab, Claimed Assistant Broke into Her House, DMN Says

Susan Hawk, Dallas County's newly elected district attorney, spent a month in rehab for prescription painkiller abuse during her campaign and accused her former top assistant, Bill Wirskye, of breaking into her home, the Morning News reported this morning.

Friends and colleagues of Hawk told reporters Gromer Jeffers and Sarah Mervosh that Hawk went to an Arizona drug rehab facility to get treatment for hydrocodone and oxycontin addiction in October 2013, not long after she announced she was running for district attorney. At the time, she told the Morning News she was headed to the East Coast for back surgery and rehabilitation.

During the campaign, Hawk accused her opponent, incumbent Craig Watkins of drinking before a debate. From the Morning News story:

During the event, Watkins had trouble remembering how long he'd been in office and became argumentative with the moderator. Afterward, Hawk muttered to Watkins, "Have another cocktail."

"A what?" Watkins retorted. "Can you believe what she just said? And she wants to be district attorney."

Watkins later said: "I'm very surprised she would say something like that because of the issues she has had to deal with." He did not elaborate.

"I'm not going to go there," Watkins said. "Should I? No, I'm not going there."

Watkins had no comment Thursday.

Since her election in November, Hawk has often feuded with members of her staff, firing Wirskye and Jennifer Balido, her administration chief. Hawk accused Wirskye, according to the Morning News, of using forfeiture funds to hire a locksmith to make a key so Wirskye could get into Hawk's house and steal an incriminating photo.

Wirskye told the Morning News he did not break into Hawk's house.

Hawk issued the following statement in response to the DMN story:

"A disgruntled former employee who was fired this week is attacking my character. Here are the facts: I have a serious back condition. A doctor prescribed me medicine. Over a year and a half ago I decided I did not want to take it any more, and I got help to quit taking it, and haven't taken any since. My family and friends - including Mr. Wirskye - knew about it, and they supported me in my campaign. The only reason I am talking about this now is to end his efforts to attack my character in retaliation to his firing."

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young