Jan. 18, 2005 Two of the women who filed sexual harassment complaints with the Senate Ethical Conduct Committee against Sen. Usie Richards last fall, have now taken those same complaints to the V. I. Police Department.
Dee Dee Byas, former Senate assistant legal counsel, who was removed from her position on the first day of the 26th Legislature, and one other former Senate employee who also was let go by the Senate, filed separate complaints Monday.
They both filed "first-degree unlawful sexual contact" charges against Richards.
Territorial Police Chief Novelle Francis said Tuesday that "sexual harassment is a crime." He said it would be investigated by the Police Department. He said he thought the case would move "expeditiously," since all the parties involved are accessible.
Byas said Tuesday that neither Senate President Lorraine Berry, who wrote Byas terminating her employment, nor Yvonne Tharpes, Legislature chief legal counsel, had offered any explanation of her termination. (See, "Two Women Who Reported Sexual Harassment Are Without Jobs").
The Police reports are the latest development in the sexual harassment case which first became public last September when a female Senate employee wrote then Senate President David Jones that Richards had made sexual advances toward her.
A Senate Ethics Committee was subsequently formed and several more women brought complaints against Richards. When the committee issued its findings in December, the employee who brought the first complaint was disappointed with the committee's decision, which was a mild reprimand for Richards. (See "Richards' Accuser Unhappy With 'Slap on the Wrist'.").
Richards has denied the charges. Through his attorney, Jeffrey Moorhead, he filed a lawsuit last December in Territorial Court on St. Croix against Senate President David Jones and members of the Senate Ethical Conduct Committee, who investigated the case.
(See "Richards Files Lawsuit Against His Colleagues").
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