Woman Accusing Franklin County Auditor of Sexual Harrassment Speaks Out
The former chief of staff to Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo says that she was "fired" and "maligned."
Monday, Jerzell Pierre-Louis gave her first public comment on the story that broke early this year.
Pierre-Louis is speaking now because she says wants people to know that she never had an affair with anyone.
She says her old boss, the Franklin County Auditor, has not been telling the truth.
Pierre-Louis worked as Mingo's chief of staff until she complained to him about his conduct in the office.
"He fired me," she said. "It was in retaliation for me coming forward with allegations of sexual harrassment."
Pierre-Louis says the problem started when another woman in the office complained to her about Mingo's actions.
"They were progressively worse and more graphic in detail," Pierre-Louis said of the woman's allegations about Mingo's conduct. "I felt as though I had a duty and obligation to protect her and that is what I did."
Pierre-Louis also says she complained to Mingo about things he had been saying to her.
"There were advances that he made towards me," Pierre-Louis said. "He asked me one occasion: what would I do if we had an affair."
After she was fired, Pierre-Louis's attorney, Rex Elliott, wrote Mingo a letter demanding $150,000 or face a possible lawsuit.
Pierre-Louis wound up getting a $135,000 contract paid for by taxpayers. It paid her to do the same kind of work she was doing while she worked for Mingo.
Investigative Reporter Paul Aker asked Elliott if the was simply a pay-off dressed up as a public works contract.
"Was this a well constructed, highly lawyered payoff?" Aker asked.
"It was not," Elliott said.
Both Elliot and Pierre-Louis say she did real work for the money. That's one thing Mingo agrees about.
From the start, Mingo's forcefully denied any wrongdoing.
"I have never done anything, I have never said anything that would lead any woman to conclude that I had a personal relationship or romantic interest in them," Mingo said in a February interview.
Pierre-Louis did softened her allegations after she received the contract.
She wrote a letter pulling back from the other woman's claim. She says that's because the woman, who still works in the office, changed her story.
"If she is now saying I am taking that all back, that's on her," Pierre-Louis said. "I can only stand on what I saw, what I witnessed."
Mingo's spokesman responded to Pierre-Louis' remarks by sending an emailed statement Monday evening.
David O'Neil wrote:
"It is always disheartening when what was a good professional relationship deteriorates into these types of personal attacks. In her letter on May 29, 2013, Mrs. Pierre-Louis reversed her previous claim and called it "irresponsible conjecture." Now it seems as if she is reinventing her story again. But no matter how many times she changes her story, that does not change the facts of this matter. I will not comment any further on her politically-motivated, reinvented story."