Former lawmaker John Arnold appeals ethics fine, reprimand in sexual harassment case

jbrammer@herald-leader.comJune 9, 2014 

John Arnold was charged with sexual harrassment by legislative staffers.

DARRIN PHEGLEY — Associated Press/The Gleaner file photo

FRANKFORT — Former state Rep. John Arnold asked Franklin Circuit Court on Monday to dismiss the Legislative Ethics Commission's decision that found him guilty of three ethics charges in a sexual harassment case.

Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, in Union County, wants the court to set aside his fine and reprimand by the commission.

He contended in his appeal that the commission did not have any jurisdiction over him as a former legislator and had no say over any sexual harassment regulations.

The commission had no immediate comment on Arnold's lawsuit.

On May 7, the commission, in its second hearing on the case, found Arnold guilty of three ethics charges in a case brought by three female legislative staffers who said he had touched them inappropriately.

On a vote of 5-1, the commission issued a $1,000 fine and a public reprimand on each charge.

Arnold's attorney, Steven Downey of Bowling Green, said then that Arnold would appeal. Downey objected to the commission's second hearing.

In April, the commission was one vote shy of five needed to punish Arnold for allegedly abusing his position as a public official. The vote was 4-1. Commissioner Elmer George of Lebanon voted no, saying he did not think the nine-member commission had the authority to punish a former member of the General Assembly.

George also cast the only no vote at the second hearing

Arnold, 69, has denied wrongdoing. He resigned from the legislature in September. His attorney has that said Arnold is suffering from dementia.

Two of the women, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, have filed a lawsuit against Arnold in Franklin Circuit Court. The other woman who filed an ethics complaint against Arnold was Gloria Morgan.

Jack Brammer: (859) 231-1302. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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