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Ohio GOP, Plain Dealer call for AG Dann's resignation; Your Say

10:12 PM, May 3, 2008   |    comments
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COLUMBUS -- On Friday, the Ohio Republican Party called for Attorney General Marc Dann to resign in the wake of a sexual harassment investigation in his office. The Plain Dealer Sunday editorial also calls for Dann to step down. On Friday, an internal investigation found that Anthony Gutierrez, Attorney General Marc Dann's general services chief, violated the office's sexual harassment policy. Read the full report Executive Assistant Attorney General Ben Espy, who conducted the investigation, made the announcement in a press conference that morning. Dann, in a separate news conference later that day, did not resign as some had speculated but admitted to having an extramarital affair with his office staffer Jessica Utovich "during a difficult time in my marriage." Dann said the affair was "consensual." Utovich, 28, the attorney general's office scheduler, has also submitted her resignation, effective May 8. She and Dann had a close relationship in which they often used profanity, nicknames and teasing when e-mailing each other, the investigation said. Utovich also had refused to answer Espy's questions regarding her role in allegedly being seen in Dann's apartment in her pajamas. Dann quoted the late actor John Wayne, about why he was not resigning but working harder as attorney general, by saying "Life is getting up one more time when you are knocked down." Dann's office fired Gutierrez Friday morning, just before Espy's press conference. Gutierrez had been on paid leave since these allegations surfaced in late March. One of the women, 26-year-old Cindy Stankoski, alleges that Gutierrez harassed her Sept. 10 while she was at an apartment where he lived with Dann and Leo Jennings III, the office's director of communications. Jennings was fired Friday morning as well. Dann's office also accepted the resignation of Dann's Chief of Policy and Administration Edgar Simpson for his conduct. "Had he not resigned, we would have terminated him...," a spokesman for Dann's office told reporters Friday. Dann's office said separate investigations by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity office are continuing. "Our investigation scope was very narrow ... we do not assume the role of 'moral police'..." Espy said. "We did not find the attorney general himself guilty of doing anything wrong." Much of the investigation focused on the night of Sept. 10 and what went on at a Columbus apartment. The investigation said Dann used poor judgment in having Stankoski over to the apartment for drinks and pizza that night. The report says arrangements should have been made to take her home when it was apparent she was intoxicated. The report also says that Jennings should be harshly disciplined for asking a witness to lie to investigators or at least be loose with facts, Espy said but Dann's office chose to fire him. The full results of an internal investigation into sexual harassment complaints inside Dann's office is posted on the Ohio Attorney General's Web site. Two women in the office accused Gutierrez, who is their boss, of harassing them with vulgar language, come-ons and intimidation. Stankoski says she fell asleep the night of Sept. 10 and awoke to find her pants undone and Gutierrez lying beside her on the bed in his underwear. Stankoski and a second office employee, Vanessa Stout, also filed sexual harassment claims with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Those claims are still being investigated.

WKYC-TV/The Associated Press

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