EXCLUSIVE: Woman accusing Ky. representative of sexual - WDRB 41 Louisville News

EXCLUSIVE: Woman accusing Ky. representative of sexual harassment speaks out

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Yolanda Costner Yolanda Costner
Rep. John Arnold Rep. John Arnold

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The sexual harassment scandal is widening at the State Capitol in Frankfort. Another woman who works at the capitol has filed a formal complaint.

Gloria Morgan says Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat from Western Kentucky, touched her inappropriately.  She says Arnold stroked her lower back to her waist area and made lewd comments.

Morgan is the third woman to file a formal complaint against Arnold with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

And now, one of those women has come forward to talk about her ordeal.

Some are calling her a hero, but Yolanda Costner says she was just tired of putting up with the harassment she says she endured from Rep. John Arnold.

"We're just sick and tired of it. We come here to do a job, and to have to go to work everyday and pray. I've prayed harder. I just want God to deliver us from this because it's been very stressful. We're just tired," said Cooper as she talked to WDRB's Lawrence Smith on the House floor.

That's why Yolanda Costner says she filed the sexual harassment claim.

She says she endured Arnold's touching and lewd comments for years, including his grabbing her underwear as they walked outside the Capitol.

"Mine began in 2010 when he actually grabbed my underpants. And it's been going on for years where he's come by my office, touching me on my shoulders, inappropriately," she said.

But she says when she saw Arnold grab her co-worker Cassaundra Cooper, who has also filed a claim, that was the last straw.

"And when he hit her on the behind, and we saw that, that was enough. Enough is enough. We shouldn't have to come to work to deal with these type of things," said Costner.

Costner has worked at the Capitol for 20 years, and says she loves public service.

But she says her supervisors in the Legislative Research Commission did little when she complained.

Costner's claims have hit the Capitol like a bomb, exposing what has only been whispered in the hallways.

"A lot of staffers are calling us heroes. We're not heroes. It's only by God's grace that we've been able to deal with this thing and come forward," said Costner. 

Costner says she would like to see Arnold resign his seat. But perhaps more importantly, she is hoping for a change in the culture at the State Capitol.

"We're not speaking just for ourselves but we're speaking for all LRC employees. They are tired of having to come to work, being intimidated, having to put up with people coming in and cussing you, touching you inappropriately," she said.

Meanwhile, as the Special Session wound down, Arnold's Desk remained empty. He has not appeared on the House floor since Wednesday, when the harassment claims went public.

"It's going to take courage," Costner said, "and now I think a lot of other people may come forward. We're taking a great step in history."

Costner has nothing but praise for her current boss, Rep. Tommy Thompson of Owensboro.

Earlier today, House Speaker Greg Stumbo released a letter he sent to LRC Director Bobby Sherman. That letter directs that every employee get a copy of what Stumbo calls a "zero tolerance" policy towards sexual harassment.

Copyright 2013 WDRB News.  All rights reserved.

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