ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County pays out more than $100,000 to settle a lawsuit. The accuser was a key assistant to former County Executive John Leopold who says he fired her when she complained about his sexual advances.
Monique Griego has more.
Leopold’s had his share of legal troubles this year. Back in January, he was found guilty in a criminal case against him, but this civil harassment case was still pending. The county has now agreed to pay his accuser $110,000.
“It’s been very difficult. It’s been emotional; it’s been a very long, hard battle,” said Karla Hamner.
A judgment Tuesday states the county will pay Hamner, Leopold’s former assistant, $110,000, plus her legal fees. In her suit, she accused Leopold of making unwanted sexual advances. She says when she tried to complain, she was fired and prevented from getting another job with the county.
“There’s no amount of money attached to what I’ve been through to make everything OK,” she said.
In January, a judge found Leopold guilty on two criminal counts of misconduct for forcing employees to carry out personal and political tasks. He resigned from office and spent 30 days in jail. In both the criminal and civil cases, former employees called Leopold’s office a toxic environment.
“It was terrifying and after a while, it was just so demeaning, it was almost intolerable the way he treated women in the office,” Hamner said.
WJZ tried to contact Leopold but were only able to reach his attorney, who says they’re appealing his criminal conviction.
Leopold’s replacement, County Executive Laura Neuman, said in a statement, “We are pleased that this case has been resolved and we can put it behind us. This closes a sad and sordid chapter in our county’s history, but serves as the impetus for putting processes in place that guard against this in the future.”
Despite what Hamner says she had to go through, she doesn’t regret coming forward.
“It’s been worth it to see the truth come out about someone who was so corrupt and took advantage of people,” she said.
The county is responsible for paying the amount because Leopold was a county employee at the time.
Leopold has said he’d like to run for office again.