DALLAS - For the first time in months, Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk is back at work.
Hawk has been away from her office while seeking treatment in Arizona for a mental illness. She unexpectedly returned Thursday to meet with her staff.
She released the following statement about her three-month absence:
"I have been able to work with a team of mental health professionals to aggressively combat my mental illness to ensure that I am healthy. While I have made it a priority to be completely transparent about my fight with this disease, my mental health team and I felt it was important to minimize my exposure to the media while I undergo treatment and refrain from announcing or even setting an official return date.
I have had constant contact with my administration and my doctors, especially within the time leading up to today and we have decided that I am ready to physically return to my job as the Dallas County District Attorney and continue my commitment of seeking justice on behalf of our community
Maintaining optimal mental health will always be a priority. Mental Illness is a lifelong disease; however, as District Attorney, I am incredibly blessed to have such a strong and supportive administrative team and such incredible attorneys, investigators, and staff who have handled my absence with both grace and professionalism. I look forward to once again working with my staff to make Dallas County safe and thriving.”
Over the past 18 months, the district attorney has been battling with a major depressive disorder. She’s been in and out of the hospital for treatment at least three times, leading many to question her ability to work.
Attorney Deandra Grant was a big supporter of Hawk and raised thousands of dollars to help her get elected. But during an interview with FOX 4’s Shaun Rabb last month, she said there is too much uncertainty surrounding Hawk and believes she needs to step down.
"We haven't gotten the truth from anyone, so I don't understand why everyone's assuming this mood disorder thing she's putting out is true. We don't know if it's true,” said Grant. "Everyone is taking on face value what she says. She's been institutionalized for with no proof whatsoever. We have no idea what her diagnosis really is.”
While Hawk has no obligation to disclose any medical records, Grant believes she owes the public documentation of her illness.
"I had no idea what her situation was. I would never have supported her or put my name behind her if I had known,” said Grant.
Supporters disagreed. Charla Aldous is one of Hawks friends and defended her in the court challenge to put her out of office after a previous rehab stint. He said Hawk is now doing very well.
“If Susan had cancer and had a recurrence of cancer and went to get treatment, I think everyone would be totally supportive,” he said. “Mental health is a disease. She has admitted and told the world that she had a disease, and she's getting help to treat that disease. And I think she should be applauded for it.”