Thursday, February 27, 2003

Former jail worker accepts settlement

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

A former Campbell County jail deputy/nurse has accepted a settlement in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Jailer Greg Buckler and the county.

Attorneys for Buckler, Judge-executive Steve Pendery, and the fiscal court made a settlement proposal last month of $90,000 to Joyce Fawcett of Fort Thomas.

Court documents show that Fawcett has accepted the offer, avoiding a jury trial that was scheduled to begin March 3.

Fawcett claimed she was raped three times around January 2001 by a supervisor at the detention center. In the suit, Fawcett said she and the man had consensual sex in 1998 and 1999.

She said during the next two years, after she ended their relationship, the supervisor harassed her and eventually raped her at work. Fawcett said she reported the rapes to Buckler around Feb. 6, 2001. The supervisor resigned three days later, and Fawcett was suspended and issued a termination notice on Feb. 20.

In her suit filed in 2001, Fawcett charged the defendants with sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation, retaliatory discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the state's civil rights statute. Fawcett's suit alleged that while the supervisor was allowed to resign his position after an investigation, she was terminated for reporting the incident.

In the settlement, the lawyers for the defendants state the $90,000 offer "... is not to be construed as an admission of liability or as recognition that plaintiff has suffered any damages as a result of the claims made by plaintiff."

"There was no admission of liability at all," said James Englert of Rendigs, Fry, Kiely & Dennis, who represented the defendants. "It's just one of those things where there's always risk. We thought the case was handled properly, but there's always a risk with a jury trial."

County Administrator Robert Horine said the county is prepared for cases such as this one.

"We're insured for this kind of thing," said Horine. "There's a small deductible, but the bulk of it is covered by insurance."

Horine said the deductible amount in this case is $1,000.

Buckler did not return a phone call seeking comment, and Pendery was out of town, his office said.

Fawcett's attorney, Barbara Bonar, released a statement through her co-counsel, Benita Fields Land, saying, "My client feels vindicated and is satisfied with the result."

Land said Fawcett did not want to make any comments other than Bonar's statement.

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