Kentucky state Representative Will Coursey’s lawyer says the legislator is likely to file a countersuit against claims that he sexually harassed a former legislative assistant.
Paducah Attorney Mark Edwards says the Democratic lawmaker denies Nicole Cusic’s allegations that he sexually harassed interns and Legislative Research Commission employees in February 2012.
"According to the things that we’ve been told, the allegations only came up after Cusic was confronted by one of the Republican Senators in that Republican senator suite about a relationship Cusic had with a member of the Democratic leadership at the time, not Will Coursey, and that they were concerned about her working there," said Edwards. "And upon the advice of the Republican senator, it was suggested to her that she retain counsel."
Cusic’s lawyer, Thomas Clay, says other LRC employees agree with her allegations of Coursey’s behavior. Edwards says he is not sure whether Coursey will file a countersuit or a separate suit for defamation and possibly for abusive process and malicious prosecution.
Coursey has about a week to respond to Cusic’s allegations.
Legislative leaders want to meet to choose an interim replacement for Bobby Sherman, the former director of the Legislative Research Commission who resigned last week.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Friday that legislative leaders need to also lay the groundwork for a search for a permanent replacement.
Sherman quit abruptly last Friday, saying in a resignation letter that he had been considering doing so for a long while. He created a dustup on Sunday when he returned to his Capitol office to clean out his desk and in doing so shredded some documents.
Now, state police have decided to investigate the shredding to see if any laws were broken. The meeting has been called for 1:30 p.m. EDT next Wednesday in Capitol Annex Room 125.
The former director of Kentucky's Legislative Research Commission says he returned to his office over the weekend and shredded paperwork.
Robert Sherman told The Courier-Journal that the documents included "personalized stuff" such as old salary comparisons. He said none of the paperwork involved anything to do with the sexual harassment allegations involving a former lawmaker or any investigations the agency is involved in.
Sherman's actions have raised concerns among lawmakers, who say he should have gotten permission before destroying the documents and allowed some independent oversight.
Sherman said others, including Deputy LRC Director Robert Jenkins, were present when the documents were shredded.
Jenkins said only extra copies of paperwork that were in Sherman's office were shredded as it was cleaned out. He said all the documents are in other LRC files.
State Rep. Sannie Overly is calling for an independent review of the Legislature's policies regarding workplace behavior in the wake of sexual harassment complaints against a western Kentucky lawmaker.
Overly, chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday she intends to file a bill next year to mandate the review and create a new personnel system that would ensure a harassment-free workplace.
The move is in response to sexual harassment complaints filed by two legislative staffers against Democratic state Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis.
A special legislative committee has been appointed to investigate those complaints. That committee could ultimately recommend Arnold's censure or expulsion from the Legislature.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo will appoint a special committee to investigate sexual harassment complaints against a state lawmaker from Sturgis.
Stumbo filed a petition with the House clerk on Thursday a procedural move that allows the formation of the eight-member investigative committee that could recommend censure or expulsion of Democratic state Rep. John Arnold.
Arnold represents Union County as well as parts of Daviess and Henderson counties.
The move came on the heels of allegations filed this month by three legislative workers who claim that they were sexually harassed by Arnold. Arnold didn’t immediately return a phone call to his legislative office on Thursday.
Stumbo said the allegations against Arnold have become a distraction and that he knows of no other way to deal with the issue.