Woman with pending lawsuit against Kentucky loses job

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A staffer for the House Republican Caucus in Kentucky has lost her job nearly one year after she sued the state saying she was punished for reporting sexual harassment involving GOP lawmakers.

Daisy Olivo was let go on Friday, according to her attorney, Shane Sidebottom. She was fired one day after House Republicans elected new leaders for the upcoming 2019 legislative session.

“Any time a whistleblower files a suit they put their job in play, unfortunately,” Sidebottom said. “Under statute, we could consider it another act of retaliation in violation of the law.”

Acting House speaker David Osborne declined to comment.

Last year, the Courier Journal reported four Republican lawmakers had signed a secret sexual harassment settlement with a woman who once worked for the GOP caucus. The settlement included Jeff Hoover, the House speaker at the time, and three other GOP lawmakers. Hoover denied sexual harassment, but said he did send the woman inappropriate but consensual text messages.

Hoover later resigned as speaker but kept his seat in the legislature. He was eventually fined $1,000 by the Legislative Ethics Commission and issued a public apology. He was re-elected to his House seat earlier this month without opposition.

Olivo filed her lawsuit a few weeks after the settlement became public. She said Hoover had “physical, sexual encounters” with the woman “both during work hours, and outside of work hours.” She said she confronted Hoover about this and reported it to the human resources department. They responded, she said, by taking away her job responsibilities.

At the time, an attorney for the woman who made the allegations said Olivo’s claim that Hoover and the woman had “sexual relations” was “absolutely not true.” But in October, the woman gave a deposition in the lawsuit. Sidebottom said her testimony described “disturbing facts regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault,” including “conduct in the parking lot of a local restaurant.”

An attorney for Hoover and two of the other lawmakers who signed the settlement has asked for portions of the woman’s testimony to be sealed, arguing her comments violated the confidential settlement agreement she signed. A judge temporarily granted that request, ruling Hoover’s attorney should have the right to ask the woman questions before the testimony is made public.

Olivo’s lawyers have opposed that ruling. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for next month.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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