The state of Louisiana has paid nearly $1.3 million to settle sexual harassment claims over the past decade, records show.
The state reached 27 settlements, with payouts ranging from $5,500 to $150,000, from 2009 to 2017. Among the accused in those cases were workers from colleges, hospitals, prisons and other government agencies. The list also includes a settlement paid regarding allegations lodged against a state legislator.
The document, a compilation from the state Department of Administration identified as a "partial response" to a public records request filed by The Advocate, shows three claims led to state payouts in 2017.
The Advocate has attempted to reach all of the people on the list that could be located. A settlement is not an automatic indicator of guilt, and in some cases settlements were struck against the wishes of the accused to mitigate state risks.
A sexual harassment allegation lodged against former Rep. Clif Richardson, a Central Republican, prompted the state to pay out $50,000 in May 2012. Richardson resigned in November that same year, citing health concerns.
He told The Advocate on Friday that he had offended an aide when he repeated a joke of a sexual nature that he had recently heard. Richardson, 73, said he didn't realize that could be taken as harassment. He was undergoing treatment in Houston for cancer at the time and didn’t feel up to fighting the allegations, he said.
In a case that has already previously made headlines, state records show Louisiana paid $100,000 and an additional $50,000 to settle two separate claims against Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control commissioner Murphy Painter in 2011. An ex-administrative assistant had accused Painter of stalking and sexually harassing her in 2010, prompting his firing and multiple lawsuits. He has denied the allegations and accused the state of harming his reputation in how it handled the allegations.
Painter’s attorney, Al J. Robert Jr., of New Orleans, said the state paid over Painter’s "vehement objections."
“He is still attempting to clear his name to this date,” Robert told The Advocate Friday. “It’s unfortunate that these unfounded allegations can cause so much heartache.”
In another high profile case, the state paid $35,000 to settle claims against Southern University Police Chief Dale Flowers in July 2009. He was asked to resign in 2006 after allegations were raised by a female Southern University Police Department employee. His lawyer at the time, Jill Craft of Baton Rouge, said he was innocent and that the university had independently cleared him of the allegations.
Even in cases where allegations or undisclosed settlements had previously been reported, the newly-released information reveals just how much harassment claims have cost taxpayers.
Anthony Marange, the former manager of the Bogue Chitto State Park, was accused in federal court of sexually harassing an employee he supervised. The state shelled out $20,000 to settle that complaint in 2014, records show.
The state paid $89,500 on June 7, 2017 to settle claims against Frederick Tombar III. He resigned as executive director of the Louisiana Housing Corp. in April 2016 — two days before a state Division of Administration official concluded in a report that Tombar “clearly established a pattern of sexual harassment and hostile work environment.”
In another widely-reported and costly settlement, allegations made against Courage Idusuyi in 2011 led the state to pay $85,000 to his accuser in 2015. Idusuyi was accused of months of harassment that forced one woman to quit the Office of Community Development. The allegations were made public in a lawsuit that accused Idusyi of taking perks from contractors in exchange for preferential treatment for work tied to the federal flood elevation program.
The state paid for two separate claims — $55,000 and $100,000 — against former Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge David Bell, who resigned in 2010 in the wake of a state investigation into allegations against him of sexual harassment. Bell is currently awaiting trial in a racketeering case against members of a Jefferson Parish auto theft ring.
A University Medical Center custodian supervisor and a supervisor in the Division of Probation and Parole also prompted multiple payouts, records show.
In addition to Southern University's Flowers, college campuses had seven cases that led to settlements.
The state paid $10,000 in 2014 to settle a claim against LSU ag center professor Kenneth Damann. Court records show an administrative assistant accused, who is still listed on the university's website as an employee, of slapping her buttocks at work.
That came just four years after allegations against James Fuxa, an LSU Ag Center professor at the time who has since retired, prompted a $24,500 settlement in 2010.
Southern University paid $40,000 to the person who accused then-professor Rufus Nwogu of harassment in 2012. He's no longer listed on the university's website.
Other professors and university employees who the state paid to settle claims against were on the campuses of Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Southern University Shreveport.
New insight into the scope of the state's settlements come as multiple reviews of how the state handles sexual harassment claims, including a legislative study, a state auditor's probe and a governor-appointed task force's review. Each was prompted largely by the resignation of one of Gov. John Bel Edwards' top aides who faced sexual harassment allegations.
Edwards' former deputy chief of staff Johnny Anderson resigned in November amid an investigation into allegations made by a woman who also worked in the governor's office at the time. The woman has not spoken publicly about her claims, but the state has hired an outside attorney in anticipation of a lawsuit.
Anderson's resignation came during a sweeping national spotlight on sexual harassment and misconduct, brought on by accusations against high-profile figures in Hollywood, the media, various levels of government and other industries.
Anderson had previously faced sexual harassment allegations from at least half a dozen women who worked for Southern University when he served on the system board and worked as an aide to then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2006.
Anderson has denied all sexual harassment allegations, but court records show the university system reached a settlement agreement with at least one of the past accusers. It's unclear whether any others did and the electronic records from the Division of Administration did not cover that period.
Edwards, who spent eight years in the Louisiana Legislature before he was elected governor, launched a task force to examine state sexual harassment after the Anderson allegations became public.
"I would say we have a problem in government just like anywhere else," Edwards told reporters during his year-end news conference, noting that the media has also been subject to the recent wave of harassment reports. "There simply is no place for sexual harassment in the workplace in Louisiana whether it's in the public sector or private sector."
Sexual harassment claims settled by state of Louisiana
|Field 1||Field 2||Field 3||Field 4||Field 5||Field 6|
|Accused Party||Accused Title||Department/Agency||Unit Name||Paid Loss||Payment Date|
|Martin Edu||Professor||GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY||GRAMBLING STATE UNIV. - GENERAL OPER||$5,500.00||3/23/2015|
|Robin Strong||Custodian Supervisor||UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER||UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER||$9,000.00||10/11/2010|
|David Bell||Judge||JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURTS (JDC)||ORLEANS PARISH CIVIL DISTRICT COURT||$150,000.00||11/13/2014|
|David Bell||Judge||JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURTS (JDC)||ORLEANS PARISH CIVIL DISTRICT COURT||$55,000.00||11/13/2014|
|Robert Scott||Director||OFFICE OF JUVENILE JUSTICE (OJJ)||OJJ - SOUTHEAST REGION (BCCY-Bridge City||$38,000.00||9/1/2010|
|Murphy Painter||Commissioner||LA. OFFICE OF ALCOHOL & TOBACCO CONTROL||LA. OFFICE OF ALCOHOL & TOBACCO CONTROL||$50,000.00||6/20/2011|
|Robin Strong||Custodian Supervisor||UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER||UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER||$6,000.00||9/27/2010|
|James Patin||Supervisor||DIVISION OF PROBATION & PAROLE||DIVISION OF PROBATION & PAROLE||$60,000.00||5/16/2011|
|Dale Flowers||Chief of Police||SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY - BATON ROUGE||SOUTHERN UNIV. - BATON ROUGE - GENERAL O||$35,000.00||7/25/2009|
|Rebecca Wiggins and Richard Bush||Cadet and Master Sergeant||ELAYN HUNT CORRECTIONAL CENTER||ELAYN HUNT CORRECTIONAL CENTER||$45,000.00||6/24/2011|
|Murphy Painter||Commissioner||LA. OFFICE OF ALCOHOL & TOBACCO CONTROL||LA. OFFICE OF ALCOHOL & TOBACCO CONTROL||$100,000.00||6/20/2011|
|Sharon Cobb||Executive Director||BOARD OF BARBER EXAMINERS||BOARD OF BARBER EXAMINERS||$35,000.00||12/6/2010|
|Rufus Nwogu||Professor||SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY - BATON ROUGE||SOUTHERN UNIV. - BATON ROUGE - GENERAL O||$40,000.00||8/23/2012|
|James Fuxa||Professor||LSU - AGRICULTURAL CENTER||LSU - AGRICULTURAL CTR. - GENERAL OPERAT||$24,500.00||6/3/2010|
|James Patin||Supervisor||DIVISION OF PROBATION & PAROLE||DIVISION OF PROBATION & PAROLE||$75,000.00||5/6/2010|
|Curt Wainwright||Corrections Major||WADE CORRECTIONAL CENTER||WADE CORRECTIONAL CENTER||$75,000.00||6/1/2012|
|Frank Wesly||Assistant Lab Technician||UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAF.||UNIV. LA LAFAYETTE - GENERAL OPERATIONS||$9,718.06||2/1/2011|
|Courage Idusuyi||OFFICE OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT||OFFICE OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT||$85,000.00||8/26/2014|
|Farrel Veillion||District Administrator||DIVISION OF PROBATION & PAROLE||DIVISION OF PROBATION & PAROLE||$50,000.00||3/14/2012|
|Clifton Richardson||State Representative||LA. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES||LA. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES||$50,000.00||5/31/2012|
|Kenneth Damann||Professor||LSU - AGRICULTURAL CENTER||LSU - AGRICULTURAL CTR. - GENERAL OPERAT||$10,000.00||9/25/2014|
|Gene Fanguy||X-Ray Technician||LEONARD J. CHABERT MEDICAL CNTR||LEONARD J. CHABERT MEDICAL CNTR||$15,000.00||5/23/2017|
|Anthony Marange||Park Manager||OFFICE OF STATE PARKS||BOGUE CHITTO STATE PARK - DIST #1||$20,000.00||12/26/2014|
|Glenn Beer||Director||LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY||LA TECH UNIV. - AUXILIARY OPERATIONS||$24,500.00||4/17/2017|
|Arthur Smalls||Supervisor||SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY - SHREVEPORT||SOUTHERN UNIV. - SHREVEPORT - GENERAL OP||$35,187.47||6/10/2016|
|Frederick Tombar III||Executive Director||LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION||LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION||$89,500.00||6/7/2017|
|Elizabeth Warren||Administrative Judge||OFF OF WORKFORCE SUPP & TRAINING (OWST)||OWST-B. R. DIST||$100,000.00||12/22/2016|