Politics & Government

Former Kentucky lawmaker asks for dismissal of sexual harassment lawsuit

John Arnold was charged with sexual harassment by legislative staffers.
John Arnold was charged with sexual harassment by legislative staffers. Associated Press

FRANKFORT — The attorney for a former Western Kentucky lawmaker accused of sexual harassment has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by two legislative staffers.

Bowling Green attorney Steven D. Downey, representing former state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, said in a four-page response Monday in Franklin Circuit Court that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the claims are barred by statute of limitations.

Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper claimed in a lawsuit they filed Oct. 1 that Arnold inappropriately touched them and made lewd and vulgar comments in numerous incidents over several years.

Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who is representing the women, said Tuesday that there is no legal problem with the five-year statute of limitations on Arnold's behavior.

Arnold resigned from the legislature shortly after the allegations against him became public.

In addition to Arnold, the two women named as defendants the state, House Speaker Greg Stumbo in his official capacity and the Legislative Research Commission.

Attorney General Jack Conway, in representing the state, said in a response filed Tuesday that the state should be dismissed as a party to the suit.

Conway noted that the women have named the LRC, an agency of the state, and the commonwealth as defendants. He argued that the two are "legally indistinguishable" for purposes of the lawsuit.

If the women are successful in their suit, they cannot collect claims from both the state and the LRC, Conway argued.

His motion is scheduled to be heard at 9 a.m. Nov. 6.

Clay said he had not yet seen Conway's response.

The LRC has been given until Nov. 6 to file its response since the legislative agency only recently hired Lexington attorney Leslie P. Vose to be its counsel.

Vose said she was not sure if she also will be representing Stumbo in his official capacity.

"That's one of the things we are reviewing," she said.

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