House panel begins probe into sexual harassment charges - WDRB 41 Louisville News

House panel begins probe into sexual harassment charges against ex-lawmaker

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Did former State Representative John Arnold sexually harass at least two female workers at the State Capitol?

A special House committee has begun its investigation, despite the fact that Arnold resigned his seat last week.

In his resignation letter, Arnold denied accusations of sexual harassment. Even though he is now gone, a special committee will continue its investigation.

"I'm sure the question is, what do we do?" said House Speaker Greg Stumbo as he addressed the committee during its first meeting.

The answer, says Stumbo, is for the committee to continue its work.

Stumbo appointed the five-member panel prior to Arnold's resignation last Friday. And although Arnold's possible expulsion is now off the table, Stumbo said the committee can help restore public trust.

"And to me that's the most important thing, that we make people understand that we're not going to turn our heads and look the other way for matters like this. I don't condone this type of behavior, and I know none of you do," said Stumbo.

The committee will look into accusations filed by two staffers, Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper. Last month, Costner told WDRB how Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, inappropriately touched them and used vulgar language.

"Enough is enough. And we're just tired of it. And we shouldn't have to come to work to deal with these type of things," she said.

But what role might politics play in the investigation?

The committee's first action, electing Fairdale Democrat Jeffrey Donohue as chair, was split along party lines. But Donohue says partisanship is not a concern.

"For the simple fact they stood up and said they would be willing to be part of this committee tells me they're willing to work together," said Donohue.

The committee will report its findings and recommendations to the full House when the session begins in January.

Rep. Julie Adams of Louisville hopes their work will go beyond just the charges against Arnold.

"If we can identify some shortcomings or situations that are current that can be corrected so that we protect workers going forward, then that's my hope," she said.

Also in the background is a possible lawsuit by Costner and Cooper, as well as ongoing investigations by the Legislative Ethics Commission and the Legislative Research Commission.

The committee's next meeting is Oct. 9, but that January deadline is looming large. Said one committee member, "Time is of the essence."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Did former state Rep. John Arnold sexually harass at least two female workers at the state Capitol?

That's the question a special committee is now looking into.

The special committee was formed to investigate Arnold's sexual harassment charges, despite the fact that he resigned last week.

In his resignation letter, Arnold denied accusations that he inappropriately touched the women and made vulgar comments.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo appointed the committee, and ordered it to continue its investigation and report to the House in January.

The committee's first action was on Tuesday morning, where Representative Jeff Donohue, a Democrat from Fairdale, was elected as chair.

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