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Court filing expected to shed light on details in legislative harassment lawsuits

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FRANKFORT, Kentucky — Kentucky taxpayers may soon know how much they will pay to settle lawsuits filed by female legislative staffers claiming sexual harassment and a hostile workplace at the state Capitol.

An agreed order to dismiss the cases is expected to be submitted in Franklin County Circuit Court on Wednesday, the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1ee4CgW) reported. The women's attorney, Thomas E. Clay, said full terms of the settlement should be filed with the order.

It would come 30 days after the Legislative Research Commission and several female legislative staffers reached a cash settlement agreement.

Lawmakers have declined to reveal what the state will pay to conclude the lawsuits.

"It would be one thing if this was a lawsuit between two private parties. But I think everyone knew going in that this would be handled publicly," Clay said.

Spokesmen for House Democratic and Senate Republican leaders did not comment Monday on the settlement. The LRC's attorney in the case, Leslie Vose, did not return a call seeking comment.

Both lawsuits were filed in October 2013 by female LRC employees who worked with lawmakers

In one suit, two women said they were sexually harassed at the Capitol by then-state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis. Arnold denied wrongdoing but resigned.

During the discovery process in their lawsuit, the women learned that House Democratic leaders — including Speaker Greg Stumbo and Majority Leader Rocky Adkins — privately were told about their harassment complaints by the LRC's executive director, Bobby Sherman, who later resigned amid criticism over how he handled the case. In a private memo in 2013, Sherman instructed Arnold to stay away from the women when it was possible, according to court documents.

In the other lawsuit, an LRC employee alleged she was moved to an inferior job after she complained that Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, had sexually harassed female legislative staffers. Coursey denied the claim.


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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