A Baton Rouge state judge on Monday threw out a woman’s lawsuit that claims now former LSU Alumni Association chief Charlie Roberts gave her a job at the association so she could continue a sexual relationship with him and then paid her about $3,000 a month after she resigned to keep the relationship a secret.
District Judge Mike Caldwell ruled from the bench following a brief hearing that Kay Heath’s suit does allege certain facts, but he said those facts “do not point to a specific cause of action which the defendant can defend.”
Caldwell gave Heath’s attorney, Jeffry Sanford, three weeks to amend the suit, but Sanford said outside the courthouse he will instead ask the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge to review and reverse the judge’s ruling.
“It’s clearly a contract,” Sanford said. “The court should enforce his agreement to pay her.”
Roberts’ lead attorney, Mary Olive Pierson, argued during the hearing and afterward that the alleged agreement between Roberts, 78, and Heath, 63, is unwritten and cannot be enforced.
“There’s no evidence of this so-called agreement,” she told Caldwell. “If it’s a settlement agreement and it’s not in writing, it’s unenforceable.”
Sanford told reporters the checks Roberts wrote to Heath for a year were in writing.
But Pierson explained outside the courthouse that the money Roberts paid Heath after she resigned was due to “his love and affection for her.” Roberts planned on marrying her, Pierson said, but Heath turned those plans upside down.
“He’s very glad this is over,” Pierson said. “This has not been easy for him.”
Heath dropped the LSU Alumni Association from her suit in August after Roberts resigned as the association’s longtime president and chief executive officer. He led LSU’s alumni efforts for three decades.
Roberts said in his “voluntary resignation/retirement” letter that he left his job to protect the association. He has admitted to a personal relationship with Heath and to personally providing her financial assistance but denies the payments were payoffs or hush money.
Two separate audits ordered following the sex scandal involving Roberts found no wrongdoing or misused money, LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy said earlier this month.
“No association funds were ever used by Dr. Roberts to give to Kay Heath or anything like that,” Vannoy has said.
Heath, who started working in marketing for the association in 2007, alleged in her suit that Roberts offered her payments of $3,200 a month for the rest of her life if she kept their alleged relationship secret. Heath sued Roberts and the association after the payments stopped, the suit states.
Her suit claims she was in a personal relationship with Roberts before going to work for the association. She needed a job so she could divorce her husband and continue her relationship with Roberts, the suit claims.
It also alleges that in April 2012, Roberts told Heath that association rules barred the personal relationship between the two and one of the two needed to resign because some members of the association’s board had found out. The suit claims at least one board member knew about the alleged payoff scheme.
The Alumni Association runs as a nonprofit entity separate from the university.