Women at center of sexual harassment scandal call Ethics - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Women at center of sexual harassment scandal call KLEC decision a "slap in the face"

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Two women at the center of a sexual harassment scandal say it's open season on women at the state Capitol after the Ethics Commission failed to take action in their case.

They have worked for state government for nearly 40 years combined. That's why Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper say it's so disappointing that the system they trusted failed them.

"It was just a travesty I thought; just a complete injustice," Cassaundra Cooper told WDRB News.

"I just wanted them to say, 'He's guilty' and admit it. This was like another slap in the face. We're the victims and nobody cares," said Yolanda Costner.

Costner and Cooper, along with a third state worker, Gloria Morgan, testified on Tuesday before the Legislative Ethics Commission -- recounting the harassment they say they endured for years at the hand of now-former Rep. John Arnold.

"And to have to just lay it all out and re-live it, that was hard. That was really hard," said Cooper.

But what was even harder, they say, was the fact that the commission failed to get the five votes needed to find Arnold guilty of violating ethics laws.

"We followed the proper channels to do what we're supposed to do and now, it's not happening. It's not happening. So, I just think the system failed us, the political games once again," said Cooper.

One of the commissioners appointed by House Speaker Greg Stumbo after the scandal broke, cast the deciding vote in favor of Arnold, saying the commission did not have jurisdiction because Arnold had resigned.

"You're employed by these people, and they're not holding anybody accountable for these actions. So, I just think it's a sad day," said Cooper.

Now they fear, it will be open season on female workers at the capitol.

"Everybody's free game. I've been asked about whether or not to carry a concealed weapon. That's something I'm considering. I've got to protect myself," said Costner.

The women say now, more than ever, they're relying on their civil suit against Arnold for justice.

"We'll be judged by a jury that's, hopefully, not political, and I think justice will really be served rather than us just getting slapped in the face once again because of politics," said Costner.

Their attorney, Tom Clay, says the civil trial will likely not begin until next spring.

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