3 Aides Ousted; AG Admits Affair


UPDATED: Wednesday August 27, 2008 11:20 AM
Two top aides to Attorney General Marc Dann were fired and a third resigned Friday following an internal investigation into sexual harassment claims made by two female staffers.
 
About an hour after the investigation's findings were released, Dann, 46, admitted that he had an affair with a member of his staff, 10TV News reported.
 
Anthony Gutierrez, general services director, and Leo Jennings III, director of communications, were both terminated as a result of the investigation.

Ed Simpson, who served as chief of policy and administration, offered his resignation on Thursday night, 10TV News reported.
 
The findings against the aides came after a month of turmoil and speculation at the office of Ohio's top law enforcer after harassment allegations by the two women were made public.
 
Last month, Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout filed formal complaints against Gutierrez, claiming that he pressured them to have sex with him and made several sexually charged comments.
 
Stankoski, 26, also said that after a night of drinking with Gutierrez, she passed out in the bedroom of his Dublin condominium and awakened next to him with her pants unbuttoned, 10TV's Patrick Bell reported.
 
At one point, Gutierrez, Dann and Jennings shared the condo, which was paid for by Dann's campaign fund, 10TV News reported.
 
The investigation said Dann showed poor judgment in having Stankoski over to the apartment for drinks and pizza, and said arrangements should have been made to take her home when it was apparent she was intoxicated.
 
The investigation found that Gutierrez created a hostile work environment and violated the office's sexual harassment policy in his treatment of two women he supervised. 
 
Jennings was accused of interfering with the internal investigation by asking Jennifer Urban, an assistant attorney, to lie about a dinner at the Ocean Club, 10TV News reported.
 
Gutierrez and Jennings were both placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

The investigation also recommended that Simpson be "disciplined" after failing to respond adequately to the harassment complaints, 10TV News reported.
 
"I had high hopes for many of the people we hired here," Dann said. "I realize some of them didn't have conventional qualifications for the jobs we gave them."
 
Dann Admits To Affair
 
Shorlty after his office announced the termination and resignation of three top aides, Attorney General Mark Dann admitted that he had a romantic relationship with an employee.
 
"I have not conducted myself in a way that is consistent with my values as a husband, father and the Attorney General of Ohio," Dann said.
 
Dann said the relationship started during a rocky point in his own marriage.
 
"At a difficult time in my marriage I got involved in a romantic relationship with a member of my staff," Dann said. "That conduct was intrinsically wrong."
 
While Dann conceded that he made poor decisions, he said the relationship with his staffer was not against the rules.
 
"A consensual affair is not necessarily a violation of our sexual harassment policy, but it was wrong," Dann said.
 
Dann did not identity the staffer with whom he had an affair.
 
Jessica Utovich, Dann's scheduler, resigned voluntarily Thursday evening. No reason for her resignation was given during news conferences on Friday.
 
Women React To Firings
 
The two women who sparked the sexual harassment investigation, Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout, spoke with 10 Investigates' Paul Aker following the news conferences on Friday.
 
Both women were happy that their story was finally confirmed through the internal investigation.
 
"I feel relieved that we've been vindicated (but) sad that it took this long for the truth to come out," Stankoski said.
 
Both women claimed that their former boss, Anthony Gutierrez, repeatedly pressured them for sex. Stout claimed that Gutierrez gave her a sex toy, Aker reported.
 
"When he gave that to me, I was like, 'Wow, what do I say?'" Stout said.
 
 
Stankoski said that after a night of drinking at the condo Gutierrez shared with Dann and Jennings, she passed out and Gutierrez unbuttoned her pants.
 
Gutierrez denied the allegation, but Stankoski claimed he later admitted it to her, Aker reported.
 
"I felt violated, angry … every emotion went though me," Stankoski said.
 
The women said all of the sexual advances were unwanted, but acknowledged they often occurred after drinking with Gutierrez, and even Dann, Aker reported.
 
"Do you feel like, in any way, you contributed to this mess my drinking with them?" Aker asked.
 
"I didn't have to go, but I was pressured to go," Stankoski said.
 
"It's offered to you time and time again," Stout said. "You finally say, 'Why not, I'll take one to get to stop asking.'"
 
The women were also asked about Dann's involvement in the case.
 
"Does he know more than what he says?" Aker asked.
 
"Yes, absolutely," Stout said.
 
"Do you think he should hold office?"
 
"I don't think that's my call to answer that one," Stout said.
 
Dann has offered to restore Stout to her original position inside the attorney general's office. Meanwhile, the attorney for the women said he was seeking a settlement from Dann's office, Aker reported.
 
If no agreement is reached, the attorney said he may explore legal action.

Parties React To Investigation's Findings
 
Ohio's Republican Party on Friday called for Dann, a Democrat, to resign from office.
 
Ohio GOP deputy chairman Kevin DeWine called for Dann's resignation, saying he turned the attorney general's office into a "raunchy frat pad."
     
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said the investigation showed a "double standard" with Dann staying while some employees were let go.
 
"I would say extreme disappointment," Strickland said. "Some anger, but disappointment," Strickland said.
 
The governor also told 10TV News that citizens of Ohio would have greater confidence if the attorney general's office underwent an outside investigation, 10TV's John Fortney reported.
 
While Dann accepted responsibility for the scandal, he said he had no intentions of stepping down.
 
In a statement, Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland, said he was "deeply disappointed in Marc Dann" who had "made a career out of loudly demanding that public officials in Ohio uphold the highest ethical standards, and yet has failed to hold himself accountable."
 
Grendell wrote, "How can we ask him to defend our State and its people, when the actions of he and his office are indefensible?"
 
Sen. David Goodman, R-Columbus, also called for Dann's resignation in a letter he complied Friday.
 

Previous Stories:

April 30, 2008: Dan Staffer Claims Someone Ransacked Her Office
April 29, 2008: Suspended AG Administrator Tied Into Other Crash
April 23, 2008: Gutierrez To Face Second Investigation
April 22, 2008: Police: No Criminal Charges Filed In Sexual Harassment Case
April 18, 2008: Man In Sexual Harassment Investigation Had Previous Legal Problems
April 17, 2008: Technical Glitches Arise In Sexual Harassment Case
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