Politics & Government

Judge rules Jeff Hoover can question former staffer who claimed sexual contact

Jeff Hoover’s emotional admission to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission

Former Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover was required to admit that he violated the Legislative Ethics Code after he agreed to a settlement offered by the Legislative Ethics Commission Tuesday, April 20, 2018.
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Former Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover was required to admit that he violated the Legislative Ethics Code after he agreed to a settlement offered by the Legislative Ethics Commission Tuesday, April 20, 2018.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled Thursday that attorneys for state Rep. Jeff Hoover have 30 days to question a former legislative staffer who accused him of inappropriate sexual contact in a deposition, which has not yet been made public.

Gail M. Langendorf, the Florence attorney for the former staffer, said she believes another deposition by her client “would be an undue burden on her but we will wait and see what to do.”

The woman has not been publicly identified by the Herald-Leader because she is an alleged victim of sexual harassment. It was revealed last year that Hoover, who was then speaker of the House, and three other lawmakers — Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green, Michael Meredith of Brownsvile and Brian Linder of Dry Ridge — had secretly settled a claim of sexual harassment by the staffer for $110,000.

Jane Doe, as the woman is known in court, gave a deposition on Oct. 2 for whistle blower lawsuits filed by two others — former House Clerk Brad Metcalf and current Legislative Research Commission staffer Daisy Olivo. They claimed they were retaliated against for asking questions about the alleged harassment of Jane Doe.

In her deposition, Jane Doe accused Hoover of inappropriate sexual contact, including “inappropriate conduct in a parking lot of a local restaurant,” according to Shane Sidebottom, an attorney for Metcalf and Olivo.

Sidebottom’s comments came after a Franklin Circuit Court hearing Wednesday on whether Jane Doe’s deposition should be sealed.

Sidebottom, of Crescent Spring, said Thursday that the judge’s ruling “has been made and now we will see how quickly the lawmakers will take her deposition.”

Hoover’s attorney, Leslie Vose of Lexington, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Shepherd said in his ruling that Hoover’s request to seal part of the 269-page deposition focuses on about 400 lines.

“The Court has now examined that deposition,” the judge said. “The testimony at issue primarily centers on allegations of boorish behavior and inappropriate physical contact ... If true, these allegations would support a finding of a hostile work environment.”

Once Jane Doe is deposed again, Shepherd said, the sealing of her comments will expire 10 days later “unless this order is extended for good cause shown after a motion and hearing.”

State Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, announced he will step down from his leadership role in the Kentucky House of Representatives on Nov. 5, 2017.

In a lengthy floor speech, state Rep. Jeff Hoover resigned Monday as speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

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