Technical Glitches Arise In Sexual Harassment Case

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A new twist on Thursday complicated an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment inside Attorney General Marc Dann's office.

Vanessa Stout and Cindy Stankoski filed a formal complaint saying that Anthony Gutierrez, who served as Dann's director of general services, pressured them for sex.

Stout and Stankoski filed a formal complaint in Cleveland with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 10TV's Paul Aker reported.

WEB EXTRA:  Sexual Harassment Investigation

One of the women was expected to file a criminal complaint with the Columbus police on Friday.

The women believe Gutierrez left a trail of evidence on his state-issued BlackBerry.  Now Dann's investigators have hit a snag, Aker reported.

"All that's happened is they've been locked out of the hard drive and they're still waiting to get in," said Ted Hart, a Dann spokesman.

Hart said that on Wednesday, computer crimes investigators locked themselves out of the BlackBerry after they tried twice to get in.  For the moment at least, nobody can be sure whether all the information contained in the BlackBerry's hard-drive will ever be retrieved.

"I would like to see if Mr. Gutierrez has sent e-mails to (Communications Director Leo) Jennings or Mr. Dann about my clients," said Rex Elliott, an attorney representing the women.   "That would be important information to me."

Elliott said that he is stunned by the new developments in the case.

Gutierrez, Jennings and Dann all shared a Dublin condominium where the women said that some of the alleged harassment took place.  Gutierrez and Jennings are now on paid administrative leave, 10TV News reported.

Dann has declined to send the investigation out of house, citing proper procedure as the reason.

"We're a law office and we want to make sure we follow the law to the letter," Dann said.

Elliott said that regardless of whether investigators obtain the data that they have already taken too long to even look for it.

"I can't fathom a reason why the first time somebody goes to get the information of that BlackBerry was (Wednesday)," Elliott said.  "I mean, this has been going on for a long time."

Aker said that investigators are "upbeat" that they will eventually be able to obtain the data although they still cannot be sure.  Nor do they know whether all of the information in question is backed up on computer servers in the A.G.'s office.

Dann DVD Makes Rounds At Capitol

Dann's office sent a DVD to state lawmakers this week that included an interesting message, 10TV's John Fortney reported.

The eight-minute DVD that featured Dann calls for open records and greater transparency in state government - two issues that Dann campaigned on in 2006.

Citing the legacy of James Madison, the nation's fourth president, Dann laid the foundation for his DVD about Ohio's open records law.

"Clearly, Madison and the other founding fathers knew that transparency and the public trust it created were critical to the success of the young democracy," Dann said.

Dann went onto to cite recent case law from the Ohio Supreme Court, Fortney reported.

"Public records are the people's records and that anyone may inspect them at any time," Dann said.

He told legislators in the DVD that it is their job to follow the law.

"Now it's time for us to do our part by making sure we know how to comply with those laws," Dann said.

In Madison's words, Dann said, "I'm confident that he would've said ye must produce the records and that's exactly what we're going to help you do."

Dann realized that there could be questions and sensitive matters but made one thing clear to the Ohio General Assembly.

"We'll teach you that when in doubt it's usually best to decide in favor of transparency and accountability," Dann said.   "Not only will that make the citizens you serve happy, it will definitely put a smile on President Madison's face."

Dann's office told 10TV News that it received more than 60 public records requests in the last 12 days twelve days compared to 33 requests in the first three months of 2008.

The office said that it is complying with Dann's DVD guidelines, saying, "This office remains committed to serving the public in an open and transparent way.  While we are temporarily burdened with an extraordinarily heavy load of requests for public records, we have produced and will continue to produce the requested records in a reasonable amount of time."

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Previous Stories:

April 16, 2008:  New Details Emerge In Sexual Harassment Case
April 14, 2008: Attorney General Puts Director On Leave
April 9, 2008: Attorney General Addresses Claims Against Services Director
April 8, 2008: Attorney General Staffers File Federal Complaint
April 7, 2008: Attorney General Suspends Director Amid Sexual Harassment Claims