Crime

Judge asked to set aside verdict or grant new trial in sexual-harassment case involving jail

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government has asked Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael to set aside the verdict and judgment or grant a new trial in the sexual harassment case of jail employee Charlotte Trotter.

Meanwhile, an investigation that began 2½ years ago into alleged sexual harassment and sexual discrimination at the jail is still not complete, officials said this week.

The motion in Trotter's case, filed Friday, came two days after her attorney, Shane Sidebottom, filed an application in circuit court for $203,418 in attorney fees. Trotter, a corporal at the Fayette County Detention Center, was awarded $60,000 by a circuit court jury in March after the jury found she was sexually harassed on the job in 2009.

The verdict was split, with the jury not finding that Trotter was the victim of retaliation and not finding that evidence proved Michael Korb, a major at the jail, touched Trotter's breast without her consent in October 2009.

In the motion filed Friday, Leslie Vose, an attorney for the local government, Korb and former detention center director Ron Bishop, all defendants in the case, said that "the verdict and judgment are not supported by the facts and the law, that the verdict is not sustained by sufficient evidence and is otherwise contrary to law, and that errors of law occurred at trial."

Vose, in a supplemental filing in support of her motion, said the local government's policies, procedures and prompt investigation regarding Trotter's allegations defeated Trotter's claims. Vose said the court erred in a ruling denying the government the opportunity to fully present its evidence regarding its investigation into Trotter's claims.

Vose said the court refused to allow the government to talk about a polygraph examination administered to Korb as part of the local government's investigation and offer proof that Korb passed the polygraph test.

Vose's supplemental filing mentions that Trotter also was asked to take a polygraph test during the investigation.

"The fact that she was offered a polygraph is news to me," Sidebottom said Friday. "She was never offered a test. I know for a fact she never took one." Sidebottom said polygraph examinations and results are not admissible as evidence under Kentucky law and laws in other states because they are unreliable.

Ishmael dismissed Bishop from the case near the end of the March trial.

A hearing on the defense's motion for the court to set aside the verdict and judgment or grant a new trial and the application for attorney fees has been set for May 11.

In January 2010, Mayor Jim Newberry announced that he had asked the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights to investigate allegations of "a sexually hostile work environment" at the jail.

The call for an independent investigation into management and personnel policies at the jail came at a time when the jail faced at least three lawsuits alleging sexual harassment, sexual discrimination or retaliation by male corrections officers.

"At this time the investigation remains open," commission spokeswoman Victoria Stephens said Thursday.

The state government agency has been conducting the investigation at no cost to the city.

Jamie Emmons, Mayor Jim Gray's chief of staff, said Friday that the city had not been given a definite reason for the delay.

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