Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 13, 2013

Sturgis lawmaker resigns amid accusations

FRANKFORT — Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, who has been accused of sexual harassment by three employees of the legislature, has resigned from the General Assembly.

Gov. Steve Beshear confirmed Friday afternoon he’d received Arnold’s resignation.

“I have received Rep. John Arnold’s resignation, and I respect his decision to step aside so that our legislators can focus instead on the business of the state,” Beshear said in a statement. “I will begin reviewing the options for calling a special election to make sure the people of the 7th District will be represented in the 2014 session of the General Assembly.”

Three female employees of the legislature have filed sexual harassment complaints against Arnold with the Legislative Ethics Commission.  Two, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, who work for Democratic House leadership, allege that Arnold made lewd and vulgar comments and touched them inappropriately.

The news was first published by WFPL, Louisville Public Radio, during a special session of the General Assembly during the week of Aug. 19-23. Subsequently, a third legislative employee, Gloria Morgan, filed a separate allegation against Arnold with the ethics commission.

The ethics commission will neither confirm nor deny ongoing investigations.

CNHI News spoke briefly by phone with Arnold on Friday but he referred questions to his attorney, Steve Downey, of Bowling Green. Downey was out of the office and did not immediately respond to a message left by CNHI News.

Thomas Clay, the attorney representing Cooper and Costner, said that Arnold’s resignation may avoid having to appear before the ethics commission but it won’t necessarily prevent litigation against Arnold.

“I think Rep. Arnold has taken this step to avoid having to go through a hearing before the ethics commission,” Clay said. “But I’m not sure it will resolve all his issues. He could still face liability issues for what could be construed as retaliation on his part.”

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