.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Sex device, porn lawsuit edging toward trial

-A A +A

Circuit judge rejects county’s request to have suit dismissed

By Ben Carlson

A judge earlier this month narrowly rejected the Anderson County Fiscal Court’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a fired county employee who claims she was sexually harassed.
Circuit Court Judge Charles Hickman said the fiscal court presented a “very strong argument” in its effort for a summary judgment, which would have dismissed the lawsuit just weeks before it is scheduled to go to trial in April.
“The Court was very close to granting Fiscal Court summary judgment,” Hickman wrote in an opinion on file at the Circuit Clerk’s office. “However, on a summary judgment motion all doubts are to be resolved in favor of the plaintiff and issues of credibility and weight to be given to the evidence are to be determined by a jury.”
Lea Beasmore filed the lawsuit in 2009 after she was fired by former judge-executive Steve Cornish. She claims she was sexually harassed while working at the county highway facility by former road foreman Chip Chambers and, when Cornish moved her to his office, was shown pornographic videos and given a vibrator by former county employees Bobby Spencer and Dean Lickliter.
Spencer has since retired and Lickliter has been replaced.
The lawsuit and subsequent publicity it created caused a firestorm throughout county government as comments made in employees’ depositions revealed numerous unseemly activities and conversations within the county’s Main Street offices.
According to depositions, employees routinely discussed their personal sex lives and shared e-mails containing homophobic and demeaning jokes. Other e-mails included a video featuring a large woman pole dancing in the nude, and another featuring a large woman and thin man engaged in sexual intercourse. Another e-mail was a phony resume featuring a nude man with poor grammar and writing skills.
Printouts of those e-mails are on file in Circuit Court and show that they went to a variety of county officials and employees in other county offices, along with private citizens.
Beasmore apparently complained to Cornish about how she was treated by former highway foreman Chip Chambers, but apparently did not tell him about the vibrator she received from Lickliter or pornography she was shown on Spencer’s work computer. That information surfaced in her lawsuit.
Hickman also overruled the fiscal court’s request to have Beasmore’s so-called whistleblower claim dismissed. In it, she claims Cornish fired her after she alerted him several times to sloppy accounting practices by the county’s financial officer.