The Louisiana Corrections Department, its secretary and an employee who alleged that the agency's then-statewide medical director sexually harassed her in October are asking a Baton Rouge judge to throw out the former director's defamation lawsuit against them.
Dr. Raman Singh, who was fired in November and filed suit later that month, is seeking monetary damages and a judicial declaration that he is factually and legally innocent of sexual harassment.
In addition to requesting the dismissal of Singh's defamation claims, attorneys for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, DPSC Secretary James LeBlanc and the female employee are urging state District Judge Wilson Fields not to grant Singh's request to declare him factually and legally innocent of the harassment allegations.
An internal DPSC investigation found that Singh sexually harassed the employee at a conference of corrections officials at the Golden Nugget Casino/Hotel in Lake Charles on Oct. 16, according to documents obtained by The Advocate via a public records request.
Internal investigators with Louisiana's corrections department found substantiated claims of sexual harassment against the agency's then-medic…
"Singh essentially requests an advisory opinion and invites the Court to second-guess the judgments and weighing of credibility determinations made in the course of the Department's investigation. The Court should reject this invitation," Thomas Flanagan and Camille Gauthier, who represent DPSC and LeBlanc, state in documents filed in the 19th Judicial District Courthouse in response to Singh's lawsuit.
Christine Keenan and Eric Miller, who represent Singh's female accuser, argue in documents filed in the case that the woman did not defame Singh by reporting the alleged sexual harassment to LeBlanc, her immediate supervisor.
"Statements regarding claims of sexual harassment are matters of public concern and not defamatory when made as part of an investigation, particularly in light of the heightened State interest in such claims," Keenan and Miller contend.
Singh's attorney, Jill Craft, said in a written statement Friday that she and Singh are "confident in our position and look forward to vindicating Dr. Singh's good name and reputation."
"Sadly, rather than allowing Dr. Singh any opportunity to clear his name, taxpayer dollars are instead spent on these attempts to avoid being held accountable," Craft said.
Singh's suit claims the sexual harassment allegations lodged against him are false, malicious and defamatory.
The DPSC investigative report contains detailed accounts from his accuser, a witness and Singh about the night of the October incident.
The woman who filed the complaint told investigators Singh came up behind her while she was sitting at the bar and "wrapped both arms around her at chest level around her breasts." She said he then "began talking to me with his face very close to my ear," telling her, "I know I am going to get fired."
After he left, the witness noticed the employee was visibly upset. The employee and the witness walked to the restroom, where they passed Singh.
"He grabbed my left arm, and pulled it across his chest and neck," the employee said in her statement. She said while he was holding her arm, he said, "I am drunk so I can tell you this, I love you."
In Singh's interview with investigators, "he adamantly denied that he ever touched (her)."
Singh said he had stopped to speak with her on his way back from the restroom that night, when he told her, "I want you to know that I love to work with you. You are one of the best employees."
He said she appeared to be intoxicated, so he walked away and they had no further contact. He told investigators he had two drinks in a period of six hours that night.
The majority of the nine other people interviewed by investigators said they didn't see any interaction between Singh and the employee. However, many told investigators that the employee did appear visibly upset. One saw Singh extremely intoxicated, and one saw him approach her and talk to her in close proximity, the report says.
The DPSC investigative file also shows that another woman had previously come to Human Resources in 2016 to discuss a separate incident of possible sexual harassment by Singh on a different work trip. She did not file a formal complaint.
Singh denies either instance of sexual harassment ever happened.