Arlington Sheriff James A. Gondles Jr. often bullied his top-level aides, told two of them that he had sex with female deputies and women who did business with his department, and made "graphic" sexual comments about others, according to sworn court depositions.

Gondles asked one deputy to help make repairs to his basement in return for his authorization of a vacation request and ordered him "on a weekly basis" to drive him on personal errands after work, according to a deposition taken in a sexual harassment suit filed in March against the sheriff by a current female deputy. Two deputies interviewed recently said that other top aides were subject to similar requests on occasion.

The sheriff once threatened to fire an employe for wearing argyle socks and frequently messed up the offices of his management-level staff by strewing their papers around, dumping card files on the floor and turning plants upside down, according to another deposition.

Gondles, who is 40 and married, refused to discuss the allegations in the depositions, and has denied the allegations of the original suit.

The deputy who filed the suit, Debora Mulvey, and her attorney, Victor Glasberg, also refused to discuss the issues raised.

The depositions were taken from three persons who worked closely with the sheriff last year and were subpoenaed this October to give sworn testimony in the case. They are Ronald Hager, the sheriff's former chief deputy, who unsuccessfully challenged Gondles in the recent election; Karen Albert, one of two top-ranking female deputies, and Tony Davis, a former deputy and Albert's husband. The Washington Post obtained the transcripts after requesting them from a court reporter.

The suit alleges that Gondles asked Mulvey to have sex with him, harassed her when she refused his advances, withheld her annual pay increase for two months and unduly criticized her work.

It also alleges Gondles "has helped create, encouraged and maintained an overtly sexist work atmosphere . . . . This continues to the present, to the detriment of all female employees . . . . "

Gondles denied the allegations in court papers and publicly.

Mulvey is seeking $100,000 in actual damages plus unspecified punitive damages. The attorneys on both sides are in the information-gathering stage. No trial date has been set.

In October, attorneys for both sides agreed to a protective order that denied the public access to case-related documents, including the depositions. The order expired shortly after the November election, in which Gondles won a third term to the $68,275-a-year job.

The attorneys sought the protective order after the suit was discussed in public forums by both candidates during the campaign for sheriff. As part of the agreement, Gondles promised not to say that Mulvey's lawsuit "arose out of the plaintiff's desire to have {the} defendant defeated at the polls . . . . " Attorney Glasberg said he signed the order to remove any appearance that Mulvey's suit was politically motivated.

Gondles has won public accolades during his tenure. He is seen as aliberal-minded reformer who is conscientious in dealing with the frequently overcrowded jail. His department has received numerous awards and Gondles is active in regional and national jail associations. He has served as president of the American Jail Association.

During his campaign, Gondles, a Democrat, frequently mentioned the number of women he employs. About 31 percent of the department's 108 employes, including 29 percent of the management-level staff, are women.

At one staff meeting, the sheriff told his employes that sexual, racial or ethnic comments were "not acceptable," according to Davis' sworn deposition.

Davis, who now works for the Alexandria Sheriff's Department, also named 18 women about whom the sheriff made sexually explicit comments or with whom he claimed to have had sex. Eleven of the women were deputies when the alleged incidents occurred, Davis said. The women's names were replaced by numbers in the depositions to conceal their identities. Some of their identities were learned by The Post through independent sources.

In his deposition, Davis said the sheriff made numerous graphic statements to him about women deputies. In some cases, he said, those statements were made to a woman deputy in Davis' presence.

About one deputy, the sheriff made "comments along that line of how he would like to . . . fondle her . . . . " Davis testified.

Davis said Gondles told him that another deputy "looked awful nice in her jeans and that he'd like to . . . hop on her . . . . " After a routine inspection of the jail, Gondles "made statements . . . to the effect that he'd really like to get it on with {one particular deputy}," Davis said.

Davis testified that he witnessed Gondles once make suggestive remarks and gestures to Beth Arthur, the department's budget and personnel technician.

She would not confirm or deny the alleged incident when asked about it last week. "I don't feel like he's ever made any comment to me that I've interpreted as sexual harassment," she said.

Davis said Arthur appeared at the time to be embarrassed.

"He enjoyed it . . . " Davis said of Gondles in his statement. "I mean it just brought his mood right up. He would laugh and brag on how the person was: 'Look at her. She's turning red,' or 'She's embarrassed . . . . ' "

According to Davis' deposition, the sheriff also told him he had sexual relations with six women, including: A woman who sold supplies to the department. According to county records, the department bought $1,900 worth of equipment from the company while the woman worked for it. The jail has continued to buy equipment from that company.

A consultant doing business with the department. County records show that Gondles authorized a $3,000 purchase order in January for the company's services. The sheriff's office later asked the budget office to postpone payment because the services were not needed, records show.

Also in January, Gondles' secretary made flight arrangements for the woman to attend an out-of-state convention in May, which Gondles also attended, according to department documents that Hager submitted during his testimony.

The documents included a copy of a personal note that Hager alleged was written by the woman to Gondles. In part, the note reads: "JG You Snore -- I can't handle it. See you in the AM! . . . . " Asked about the note before the election, Gondles said he would not discuss his personal life. The woman denied having had sex with Gondles.

A deputy with whom Gondles said he had sex in his house. A source who said he was familiar with the alleged incident said the woman was working in the department during the summer and had shown up at Gondles' house with another woman deputy. The source said a male deputy was also in the house, and that Gondles was separated from his wife at the time. They are now together.

Another deputy. Hager, in his deposition, said, "There are many times that I drove him {Gondles} . . . to her place of residence, and picked him up at a later time. I will say on one occasion I observed him in her bed, but not with her." The woman, fully dressed, had greeted Hager at the door, he said.

In his deposition, Davis said the sheriff told him he wanted to have sex with Mulvey, the deputy who filed the suit.

Hager and Davis also said Gondles was jealous of Davis because he believed Davis was having an affair with Mulvey. "He was obsessed with that," Hager said in the deposition. "He would tell me about it every day."

Davis testified that the sheriff fired him early this year after he demanded that Davis stop associating with Mulvey. Davis said he refused. Six weeks later the sheriff reinstated him, but Davis said he received no salary for that time.

In court papers, Gondles said he had directed Davis "to cease conduct which was creating the appearance that {Mulvey and Davis} were engaged in an intimate relationship."

Davis and Mulvey have said they are friends, nothing more.

Many of the almost 400 pages of sworn testimony address the way the sheriff has behaved with top aides. Deputies interviewed say his actions have affected the morale of the rank-and-file employes.

During the recent election campaign, 22 deputies -- more than one-fifth of the department -- publicly endorsed Gondles' opponent.

In his statement, Davis said it was a "common occurrence" for the sheriff to make a mess of his top aides' offices, a statement later corroborated in interviews with three deputies. The sheriff "would get a kick out of turning your plants upside down, taking your cards off of your index file, maybe taking the papers that were in your In box and Out box, dumping them on the floor . . . say 'see you later. Have a nice day . . . , ' " Davis said in his deposition.

"People would shut their doors," Davis testified. "They'd see him coming and lock their doors behind them just, you know, guard the door so he don't come in there."

Davis testified that Gondles once threatened to fire a plainclothes employe for wearing argyle socks. Deputies interviewed said Gondles sometimes wore argyle socks.

"He gave me a speech one time about double standards," Davis said in his testimony, " . . . which meant that there was a standard that was expected of the deputies and there were his standards. And what he did was his choice and his pleasure because he was the sheriff."

Hager said that the sheriff asked him to help repair his basement at his home at 428 N. Nelson St. in exchange for approval of a vacation request, according to his deposition.

Hager said he submitted a vacation request form to the sheriff in March 1986. The cover memo, a copy of which Hager gave to The Post, stated, "If you approve this, I realize I may have to work during this period if questions arise concerning: jail study, toilets, ventilation, classification study."

He said the sheriff replied at the bottom of the letter, "What about my projects?" Hager then wrote in "Sheriff's Basement," sent it back and it was approved, he said.

Two other deputies interviewed said they also helped work on the sheriff's home. One said he did the work because he believed that if he did otherwise, he might not be promoted. The work on Gondles' house included paving a patio, a walkway and the driveway, repairing the basement and painting shutters, according to interviews with the deputies.

Hager testified that Gondles also has ordered him "on a weekly basis" to drive him after work on personal trips. Another deputy interviewed said the sheriff on occasion ordered two other deputies to drive him on personal errands.

"You're expected to give total loyalty without any expectations," said one interviewed deputy, who asked not to be identified, "and then to have disrespectful things happen gives people the impression that their work is not important."