Judge dismisses House Speaker and Commonwealth of KY in sexual - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge dismisses House Speaker and Commonwealth of KY in sexual harassment suit

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John Arnold John Arnold

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Franklin Circuit Court judge has dismissed House Speaker Greg Stumbo and the Commonwealth of Kentucky as defendants in the sexual harassment lawsuit against former State Representative John Arnold.

Meanwhile, the special House committee investigating the charges met for the first time in more than a month and made very little progress.

It was a very short, very strange meeting that seemed to get no closer to determining whether former state Rep. John Arnold sexually harassed two female staffers.

The committee's job is to investigate charges by Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper that Arnold inappropriately touched and grabbed them and used offensive language. Arnold has since resigned but denies any wrongdoing.

The committee convened for its first meeting since October and then promptly went into private executive session.

Among those shut out were the attorney for Costner and Cooper.  "It's always troubling to me that things are done behind closed doors. This is a matter that has a great public interest and it should be transparent, particularly involving the allegations and the number of complaints which were apparently made against Rep. Arnold," said Tom Clay.

After 40 minutes behind closed doors, the committee returned to open session and adjourned. Chairman Jeff Donohue instructed the committee's attorney to come up with a plan for how the panel should proceed. Donohue says he's concerned about the civil lawsuits Costner and Cooper have already filed, and of ongoing investigations by other agencies, including the state police.

"But with all the types of litigation that's going on, I think it's our charge to make that we don't do anything that's going to impede or interfere with what we're trying to move forward on," said Donohue, a Democrat from Fairdale.

But as the committee tries to find its way, there are indications of perhaps more trouble for Arnold. Clay says he'll soon file court documents naming other alleged victims, including a female House member.

"There are allegations that involved other LRC employees as well as other elected officials where Rep. Arnold's conduct was inappropriate," said Clay.

The committee meets again in one week but the scope of its investigation remains unclear.

The committee's report is due when the 2014 session begins Jan. 7.

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