Jury deliberating Beasmore verdict

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Jury deliberation in Lea Beasmore's $1.5 million sexual harassment trial began around 12:30 this afternoon.

Both sides presented their closing arguments this morning, with Beasmore's attorney going to great lengths to question the credibility of current and former county employees, including those who have admitted participating in sending sexually explicit e-mails, exchanging vibrators and watching a pornographic video.

Attorney Ken Henry also attacked former judge-executive Steve Cornish, claiming he refused to assist Beasmore when she allegedly informed him that she was being sexually harassed by foreman highway foreman Chip Chambers. He then went on to attack Chambers, saying he is "just a little bit guilty" of everything, including asking Beasmore when she worked at the highway department if she was "spiked" or empregnated by a sand n----r" during a vacation to Italy.

Chamber steadfastly denied saying that, and Cornish claims she never told him of the incident. Cornish also testified that Beasmore never officially told him she was being sexually harassed, only that she was considering filing a complaint and that she asked him not to get involved.

Attorney John Harrison defended the county by saying Beasmore has changed her versions of what happened to her while she worked at the highway facility and later at the judge-executive's office.

"If you pay her," he told the jury, "you will be saying it's OK to manufacture stories, fabricate notes and tell five different stories under oath."

Harrison said planning and zoning secretary Renee Evans and Deputy Judge Executive Cheryl Peach each had the integrity to get on the stand and admit what they did, "but Lea didn't."

Beasmore is also suing on a whistle blower claim and says she was fired for pointing out mistakes in the finance director's office.

She claims to have found an unpaid insurance bill that would have caused serious damage to the county had she not given it to Cornish, along with numerous problems with purchase orders.

She claims when she told Cornish about the problems, he was OK with her doing so, but when he fired her, he accused her of trying to get the finance officer fired to get his job.