Nov. 23, 2004 – The Senate Ethical Conduct Committee held a four-hour hearing Tuesday in its continuing investigation into a Senate employee's claim she was sexually harassed by Sen. Usie Richards.
Richards denied the allegations when they were made public in October, stating they were a political ploy to defame his character.
The Senate employee, in a letter to Senate President David Jones dated Sept. 20, charged that Richards had made sexual advances toward her on her way to the Senate Chambers in St. Thomas. The woman serves as a staff member for both Sens. Ronald Russell and Luther Renee.
Sen. Lorraine Berry, chair of the committee, said the Tuesday hearing concerned "reputations on both sides" and said what went on there would remain confidential.
She said the process would not be concluded until after Thanksgiving, and at that time the committee would make a recommendation to the Senate president.
Berry has said before that if the recommendation has a penalty attached to it, it goes to the full Senate for a vote. If the committee recommends censure or reprimand, it would require eight votes to be approved. If the committee recommends expulsion, it would require 10 votes.(See "Senate Investigating Complaint of Sexual Harassment").
In a letter from Berry to attorney Jeffrey Moorhead, who represents Richards, on Nov. 17, she described the hearing "as not meant to emulate a judicial court proceeding, rather it is an administrative process to ensure the fair resolution of the complaint of sexual harassment."
The letter also notified Moorhead that his request for personnel files and transcripts of interviews was being denied.
Moorhead did not return a call made to his office Tuesday afternoon.
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