Politics & Government

Judge to hear requests by Stumbo, state to drop out of sexual harassment lawsuit

Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, is speaker of the Kentucky House.
Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, is speaker of the Kentucky House.

FRANKFORT — A judge decided Wednesday to hear requests on Nov. 18 to dismiss House Speaker Greg Stumbo and the state of Kentucky as defendants in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by two legislative staffers against a former Western Kentucky lawmaker.

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate was scheduled to hear a motion Wednesday from Attorney General Jack Conway's office to dismiss the state as a defendant, but Wingate gave lawyers representing the two staffers until Nov. 18 to file written responses to Conway's motion.

The motion to dismiss Stumbo from the lawsuit already had been set for a Nov. 18 hearing. Stumbo said he acted promptly when he heard about the harassment allegations by referring the matter to the Legislative Research Commission for investigation.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 1 by Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper, named former state Democratic Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis, the state, the LRC and Stumbo as defendants.

The two women allege that the state government failed to protect them after they complained in February that Arnold inappropriately touched them and made lewd and vulgar comments to them numerous times over several years.

Arnold has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the claims by the women are barred by the statute of limitations. His motion is pending.

Arnold has denied the harassment allegations and has resigned from the state legislature.

Thomas Clay, an attorney for the women, has said there is no problem with the statute of limitations.

Assistant Attorney General Nicole Pang told Wingate on Wednesday that the state should be dismissed as a defendant in the suit because the women have named both the LRC, an agency of the state, and the commonwealth as defendants.

Leslie Vose, a Lexington attorney for the LRC, said the LRC employed the women and that she did not object to the attorney general's motion.

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