In Frankfort, lawyers for the state are asking a judge not to allow the release of documents that could include information on sexual harassment in Kentucky state government.
Louisville Attorney Thomas Clay represents female state House employees who say in a lawsuit they were sexually harassed by former Kentucky lawmaker John Arnold. They also allege they were retaliated against in a separate matter by current state Rep. Will Coursey.
Clay said that in a hearing Wednesday in Franklin Circuit Court, Judge Thomas Wingate heard a motion to dismiss the suit altogether. The state argues that because the Legislative Research Commission, which is named as a defendant, did not employ Arnold, the suit is moot.
Clay believes the documents detail instances of sexual harassment beyond the Arnold case, and says that the state is dragging its feet.
“That argument is frivolous because there’s ample federal authority that says the employer has a duty to protect employees from harassing conduct even from non-employees of that employer," Clay said.
Wingate did not decide on any of the motions, and has yet to schedule the next hearing date.
The women are seeking damages from Arnold and the state for embarrassment, humiliation, mental anguish and retaliation, as well as attorney’s fees.
An audit of Kentucky's state government by the National Conference of State Legislatures is currently under “review” by political leaders in the commonwealth, but the report hasn’t been made public.
A spokesman for the NCSL says a preliminary draft of their report was delivered on April 25 to Marcia Seiler, the acting director of the Legislative Research Commission, and to members of state House and Senate leadership.
The LRC authorized a $42,000 audit in December following allegations that it improperly handled claims of sexual harassment by former Rep. John Arnold. Arnold was fined this year by a state ethics board after it found him guilty of the charges.
Recently, the LRC extended its contract with the NCSL through June of 2015, to accommodate the longer review process. The legal counsel for GOP state Senate President Stivers says that will not cost any extra taxpayer money.
Louisville Rep. Tom Riner has been an outspoken opponent of the secrecy of what he calls a culture of harassment in Frankfort. He said he hasn’t seen the audit, but has a theory why it hasn’t been released yet.
Statehouse staffers who've filed lawsuits against a current state legislator and a former lawmaker want access to a report their attorney said may include allegations of improper behavior by other legislators.
In Sept. 10 hearing, a Franklin Circuit judge will consider motions regarding lawsuits filed against Rep. Will Coursey (D-Symsonia) and former Rep. John Arnold (D-Sturgis).
The Arnold lawsuit stems from allegations that he sexually harassed and retaliated against Legislative Research Commission staffers. The Coursey lawsuit stems from allegations that he retaliated against an LRC employee after she made claims about his behavior.
Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who represents the plaintiffs in both suits, said the LRC opposes his request for discovery regarding documents in the Arnold case that Clay claims may include past complaints of sexual harassment involving other lawmakers and LRC staff.
A Republican challenger has emerged to face embattled 6th District State Representative Will Coursey.
Keith Travis is the Vice President of Development for the Murray Calloway County Hospital. He is also a former state board of education chairman and has been named citizen of the year in Marshall County.
Coursey, the incumbent democrat, is facing charges that he retaliated against a state staffer when she complained about Coursey’s inappropriate behavior toward female interns. Coursey has filed a counter-suit.
Coursey is in his third term and and had no primary or general election challenger in his last bid for re-election.
Travis says he wants to see more economic growth with less governmental intervention in Kentucky. He plans to file his papers with the Secretary of State on January 15.
A Franklin Circuit Court Judge will order depositions in a lawsuit against a Kentucky lawmaker.
Judge Thomas Wingate will order Rep. Will Coursey, a Democrat from Symsonia, to provide a deposition in the suit brought against him by Nicole Cusic.
Cusic is an employee of the Legislative Research Commission who has alleged Coursey and former LRC director Bobby Sherman retaliated against her after she complained to her superiors that Coursey was allegedly behaving inappropriately with female interns.
Coursey has filed a counter-motion. It accuses Cusic of slander and defamation. Attorneys are waiting to see if it will be added to this case.
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.