PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — Taxpayers will cover nearly all of a $300,000 payoff to settle a sexual harassment case against a local district attorney.
Since the middle of last year, the state-hired lawyer representing Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan had said they'd vigorously defend the allegations.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant has learned that the lawsuit filed in federal court will soon go away, but only after taxpayers take a big hit.
“I’m not at all surprised this case settled for the number it did and as quickly as it did,” said employment attorney Jenn Coalson. “I think that given the allegations, there really wasn’t much other choice.”
The lawsuit, filed last year by senior office staffer Jamie White, claimed Donovan repeatedly harassed her and retaliated against her when she reported it.
“I think the message here is people in positions of power have to be more sensitive to their employees,” Coalson said.
County Board of Commissioners records that Diamant obtained show how the $300,000 settlement breaks down.
The state’s Department of Administrative Services will back $220,000 in taxpayer dollars. Paulding County will kick in $5,000.
The county’s insurance company will kick in $50,000 after county taxpayers cover a $25,000 deductible.
“In an office that’s so important for the people’s trust to violate that trust, and then have the taxpayers pay for it -- It’s crazy,” said William Perry, with Georgia Ethics Watchdogs.
Diamant has already reported how an outside attorney, who the county paid nearly $18,000 to investigate White’s claims, found Donovan violated the county’s sexual harassment policy.
Plus, the state hired another private lawyer to represent Donovan, while Donovan hasn’t shelled out a penny
“I don’t think it should be on their backs. I think as an individual he should step up and reimburse the county and reimburse the state for this,” Perry said.
The county will also pay more than $6,000 in mediation fees.
We'll learn more about any non-monetary things Donovan agreed to once the final paperwork is filed with the court.
Neither the county nor White's lawyer would comment on the settlement.
Diamant did not hear back from Donovan’s attorney.
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