Government
1:50 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Kentucky Legislative Research Commission Employees File Lawsuits on Sexual Harassment Claims

Two Kentucky lawmakers have been named in a pair of sexual harassment lawsuits filed Tuesday on behalf of Legislative Research Commission employees.

The lawsuits also name the Legislative Research Commission as a defendant. The lawsuit filed against former state Rep. John A. Arnold Jr. also names House Speaker Greg Stumbo, claiming he didn't prioritize an investigation into sexual harassment claims.

Kentucky state Rep. Will Coursey, a Democrat from Symsonia, is named in a complaint brought by Nicole Cusic, an employee of the state’s Legislative Research Commission who worked as Coursey’s secretary. Cusic claims she was retaliated against after she complained that Coursey was trying to forge inappropriate relationships with female statehouse interns. 

The  second suit accuses Arnold, a Sturgis Democrat, with sexually harassing two longtime  LRC employees, Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper.

Arnold resigned last month citing health concerns, and has denied the allegations initially brought by Costnerand Cooper in complaints filed with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission which allege Arnold sexually harassed and assaulted them for years.

In his resignation letter, Arnold wrote that he didn't believe he's guilty of sexual harassment.

(Related: Past coverage of the John Arnold allegations from WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.)

Coursey likewise has denied any wrongdoing, and his attorney, Mark Edwards, told Kentucky Public Radio that Coursey “never had an inappropriate relationship with anybody.”

The lawsuits were filed in Franklin Circuit Court.

In a statement, Stumbo said: "It is our policy not to comment on pending litigation.”

The suits accuse the Legislative Research Commission of creating a hostile work environment.  Costner and Cooper also allege that they were not compensated for overtime that they worked. Former LRC executive director Bobby Sherman resigned from his position last month following the conclusion of an internal investigation of the allegations against Arnold. Kentucky State Police has opened an investigation into the shredding of documents by Sherman days after his resignation.

(Related: In Kentucky Legislature, Lax Rules Govern Workplace Relationships Despite Long History of Scandal)

WFPL will have reaction and more later today on this developing story. Stay tuned.

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