Harassment suit against Augustine dismissed
December 7, 2004
A sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine by her former chief deputy is being dismissed on a legal technicality, a Reno lawyer said.
Mark Mausert, attorney for Art Ingram, confirmed a statement by Augustine that both sides have agreed to dismiss the lawsuit in which Ingram claimed the controller was “sexually stalking” him.
“The dismissal has nothing to do with the merits or the truth” of the allegations, Mausert said Monday, adding that an obscure section of a 1964 federal law excluded state elected officials from being sued for sexual harassment by their personal staff.
The exclusion was spotted by a researcher for Augustine’s lawyer, David Grundy of Reno. Grundy was hired by the state attorney general’s office to represent Augustine in the civil lawsuit.
Augustine, subject of a four-day impeachment trial, returned to her office Monday, saying she has been flooded with calls congratulating her on the outcome of the proceeding.
The Senate agreed to censure Augustine after convicting her on one count of misuse of state equipment in her 2002 re-election campaign.
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Mausert said that there’s a possibility of a lawsuit in state court against Augustine, but he hasn’t talked with Ingram about that. Ingram was called to active duty in the Army this year and is now stationed in Germany.
Ingram sued Augustine in federal court last June, alleging that he resisted her sexual advances and as a result was reprimanded and suffered in his job. He said restrictions were placed on him in the office, he was threatened with a letter of insubordination and his duties and responsibilities were limited.
Augustine denied Ingram’s allegations, telling investigators that Ingram had caused problems and that if he returns he must “demonstrate dramatic improvement” or he will be subject to demotions, suspension and termination.
Ingram alleged Augustine touched him “in an overtly sexual manner,” attempted to kiss him, demanded a hug from him and lifted her shirt and exposed her skin and her bra.
Augustine said the claims were “ludicrous,” adding that Ingram’s behavior became “erratic and unpredictable inside the office and out.”
Augustine also said she may have hugged Ingram but added she hugged women in her office if they were having a bad day.
She also said she gave Ingram a kiss on the cheek when they were attending a political function in Elko, but it was harmless and merely to thank him for accompanying and driving her to Elko.