Records: Inmate won $300K sexual harassment case

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by Associated Press

kvue.com

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 7:22 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Sexual harassment cases against state workers for which New York taxpayers paid $5.3 million to settle over four years included the case of a prisoner who collected $300,000 for an improper "pat and frisk" by a guard, records show.

The case of former inmate Stephen Lewis was among the first batches of records of sexual harassment settlements recently obtained by The Associated Press under the state Freedom of Information Law. The records released Thursday and Friday show more than 20 cases against state workers settled using public money over the last four years.

Lewis was a prisoner at Arthur Kill on Staten Island. He presented the case as a sexual assault that violated his rights. U.S. District Judge John Gleason said the case stemmed from a "sexually abusive pat and frisk" by a male guard in November 2007.

Lewis couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Another prisoner, Laurie Kellogg, won a $75,000 settlement last year for a complaint she lodged in 2007 against the state Department of Corrections. She is in the Bedford Hills women's prison serving a life sentence in the manslaughter conviction for her husband's death.

A nearly $2 million settlement was paid to a cook at the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility who had accused her boss of sexual harassment stemming from incidents in 2000 and 2005. She also accused her boss of retaliation after she made the claims.

In another case, $90,000 was paid to a woman who accused a staffer with the Senate's Republican majority of inappropriate comments and actions.

The records were requested following the disclosure of $103,000 in public money paid to settle a sexual harassment claim against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a Brooklyn Democrat. That case was settled by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in June. It surfaced Aug. 24 after the Assembly ethics committee censured Lopez for separate accusations by two women dating to July.

Silver has said he won't agree to any other private settlements because government must be transparent. The case against Lopez, who denies sexually harassing anyone, forced the issue of sexual harassment in Albany into public view. The Lopez cases are now being reviewed by the state ethics board.

The records, obtained Thursday and Friday from the state Attorney General's Office, didn't involve any elected officials. The cases involved the Department of Corrections, the State University of New York, the City University of New York, the Office of Mental Health and a psychiatric hospital.

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