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Sex toy, porn alleged in lawsuit

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Fired county worker claims sexual harassment, questions accounting practices

By Ben Carlson

A fired county employee claims in a lawsuit filed last week that co-workers gave her a sex toy, exposed her to pornography, harassed her and that she witnessed sloppy accounting practices.

Lea Beasmore, a former administrative assistant who was fired March 2, is suing Judge-Executive Steve Cornish personally and in his position as judge, along with the fiscal court for an undisclosed amount of money.

Beasmore claims that Dean Lickliter, the county’s building inspector, brought a sexual device commonly known as a vibrator into her office Feb. 14 and gave it to her. She also claims in the suit that Lickliter gave her items from an adult store owned by his wife on multiple previous occasions. She claims the items were given to her in her office, which is located just across the hallway from Cornish’s.

She also claims that Bobby Spencer, the county’s electrical inspector, asked her and the judge-executive’s secretary, Cheryl Peach, to step into his office where he and Lickliter displayed a video of two people engaged in sexual intercourse on Spencer’s work computer, which is in close vicinity to Cornish’s office.

Louisville attorney Ken Henry of Henry & Associates is representing Beasmore. He said he doubts that kind of alleged behavior is what Anderson County residents expect from county employees.

“The good people of Anderson County should consider if this is the type of behavior they want, desire or would tolerate in the government institutions paid for by their hard-earned tax dollars,” he said. “Ask yourself what if this were one of your family members who had been exposed to this type of behavior.”

On Monday, Cornish acknowledged having read the suit and asked that people keep in mind that these are only allegations.

“That’s all they are at this point in time,” he said, adding that Beasmore’s claims will be investigated.

Cornish said an insurance company through the Kentucky Association of Counties will likely represent the county. He said as of Monday an attorney had not been assigned to the case.

Asked if county employees receive training regarding sexual harassment, Cornish said, “As far as specific training, no, nothing.”

Beasmore’s suit, filed in Anderson County Circuit Court, also recounts numerous times she notified Cornish of sloppy accounting practices by Rick Waddle, who serves as the county’s finance officer and was Beasmore’s supervisor.

The first came last August when she claims Waddle had not paid the county’s bill for life insurance for its employees, and that the county had received a cancellation notice from the insurance company.

She claims she immediately notified Cornish of the problem, then was relieved of her matching invoices and statements duties several weeks later by Waddle.

She claims Waddle reassigned her to that duty last Dec. 1. On Dec. 11, she claims she again went to Cornish with invoice and purchase order problems she found while Waddle was working without her help.

On Dec. 15, she claims she wrote a note to Waddle telling him that purchase orders and invoices for a local supplier had been incorrectly matched and filed and that he needed to correct the problem. She claims Waddle used “white out” to cover her note and told her that he “would just file the purchase orders and invoices away.”

Beasmore claims she discovered even more purchase order and invoice problems Dec. 16, and notified Cornish. That same day Cornish called a meeting with Waddle and Beasmore and told him to have her assist him with matching purchase orders and invoices.

Cornish then met with Beasmore on Feb. 10, she claims, about several issues including some that “he incorrectly characterized as personal business she had conducted from her office.”

Cornish fired Beasmore on March 2, telling her that there was too much dissention in the office and that she was trying to get Waddle fired, according to the suit. Cornish told her she was not a team player, but that she had done a good job, the suit says.

Her firing came only two weeks after allegedly receiving the vibrator from Lickliter. The lawsuit does not say that she informed Cornish of that claim or the one about pornography on Spencer’s computer.

Beasmore also claims that she was “harassed” during her time working at the county highway department. She claims that when she was hired in June of 2007, she was assigned to the road department under the supervision of highway foreman Chip Chambers. She said Chambers “began a course of harassing conduct that continued throughout the entire time she was employed at the road department.”

She claims that she told Cornish of the harassment on two separate occasions.

Cornish assigned Beasmore to his office in February 2008, seven months after she began working at the highway department.

Beasmore’s suit alleges violations of KRS Chapter 344, which covers sex discrimination. It also contains a count for violation of the so-called “Whistleblower Act” (KRS 61.102), which makes it unlawful for an employer to subject an employee to reprisal, use or threaten to use official authority or influence which tends to discourage … or discriminate against any employee who reports an actual or suspected violation of any law, statute, executive order, administrative regulation, mandate, rule or ordinance.

A third count in the lawsuit seeks punitive damages for Beasmore, “such amount that a jury may find just and reasonable at trial of this matter.”

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.