Ohio sexual harassment settlement finalized

John O'Brien Feb. 24, 2009, 1:00pm


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - The Ohio Controlling Board on Monday approved a nearly $500,000 settlement for two women who filed sexual harassment claims against the state's Attorney General's Office.

Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout will each received $247,500 as a result. The alleged harassment took place when Democrat Marc Dann, who resigned in May, was in office.

Four Democrats on the board approved the settlement, while three Republicans voted against it, The Associated Press reported.

Dann admitted to an affair with Jessica Utovich during his second year in office. He has also been accused of misusing campaign funds.

He was threatened with impeachment by fellow Democrats after he admitted to an affair May 1. He did so while releasing a 57-page report substantiating allegations of sexual harassment against Dann aide and friend Anthony Gutierrez.

The report found that, "Management employees encouraged and tolerated a workplace atmosphere of frequent profanity, extremely casual and improper personal interactions with subordinates and a general lack of professionalism and respect."

Gutierrez and the attorney general's communications director, Leo Jennings III, were fired for trying to coax an assistant attorney general to lie to investigators, while Dann's chief of staff, Edgar Simpson, was forced to resign.

Dann had the affair with Utovich, who voluntarily resigned her position as his office's travel coordinator.

The report also found that Dann "exercised poor judgment by engaging in and permitting Cindy Stankoski to come to his home for drinks and pizza."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien via e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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