Reporting Derek Valcourt
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—More trouble for embattled Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold. Another woman has come forward alleging sexually inappropriate behavior and language by her former boss. Derek Valcourt has more on a newly filed affidavit.
Now these new claims add more ammunition to the separate federal lawsuit he’s facing.
Allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior by Leopold first surfaced when former employee Karla Hamner filed a federal suit against Leopold, claiming he made unwanted sexual advances and fired her for complaining. Now this new affidavit by another county employee, Carla Sagerholm, furthers those claims saying Leopold would often stare at female employees’ breasts and that he talked offensively about women all the time.
Sagerholm calls the county executive’s office a toxic environment where anyone showing disloyalty to Leopold is the subject of rumors, retribution and even termination.
“There is no doubt in my mind that everything that is in that affidavit is absolutely 100% correct and I am sure there is way more,” said Joan Harris.
Former Leopold employee Joan Harris also claims she was unjustly fired because she cooperated with Karla Hamner’s attorney. Harris says this latest affidavit corrobrates her story. In fact, she’s mentioned by name. In it, Sagerholm says she overheard one of Leopold’s top aides saying `We know that Joan has talked to Karla Hamner’s attorney and we’re getting rid of her.’”
“She heard that. That’s exactly what was my feeling and my assumption as to why I was fired,” Harris said. “We aren’t making this stuff up. This is real. This stuff happened. This is what was done to me because I was talking to an attorney.”
Leopold already awaits trial on criminal charges related to misconduct in office involving using police to dig up dirt on political enemies and drive him to sexual encounters. He has always maintained his innocence.
“I’m very confident when all the relevant facts are known that we will prevail,” Leopold said.
A trial date for the criminal case against Leopold has been set for late January.
Calls to Leopold’s attorney were not returned.