Friday, May 2, 2008

AG Dann's Columbus Playboy Condo

LOLcat from I Can Has Cheezburger?

Sorry, but sometimes I can't help gloating. Today's one of those days. Ohio's Attorney General, Marc Dann, just admitted responsibility for creating an atmosphere that fostered sexual harassment. He also confessed to an affair with an underling. I'm feeling some Schadenfreude about the truth coming out. From the get-go, it seemed obvious to me that he must have known about and condoned the activities of his top aides and condo mates.

Here's how the Columbus Dispatch is reporting it:
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann admitted today he had an affair with an underling that created an atmosphere that encouraged sexual harassment and cost four people their jobs.

Two top Dann employees were fired and a third resigned because of an internal investigation of sexual harassment complaints released this morning.

And Jessica Utovich, Dann's former scheduler, quit last night.

Although Dann wouldn't name the employee with whom he had a "romantic relationship" during a "difficult time" in his marriage last year, he did admit Utovich had spent the night in his Dublin-area condo.

"To (my wife) Alyssa and my children, to the employees of the attorney general, I apologize for my human failings."
I don't really have any business dissecting Dann's marriage, and anyway I don't know enough to even be tempted. My beef is slightly different. As the reports have trickled in of twentysomething female employees passing out at Dann's condo after a surfeit of bourbon and Hawaiian pizza, it's sounded more and more like the AG's office was trying to recreate the Playboy mansion in miniature.

I'm not against people playing together outside the office - not even romantically, if they're roughly equals. Of course, it's impossible for Dann to meet that condition no matter who his partner was in his affair. He's the boss, after all.

I'm not not even against bourbon and Hawaiian pizza, though I personally wouldn't consume them together or in excess. (I'm still trying to figure out WTF the pizza has to do with anything in this story!)

But if you nurture an environment where even the hiring of young female staffers appears calculated to provide fresh meat (to put it indelicately but accurately), and if you encourage them to come back to the condo you share with a couple of your top aides, and if you're using that condo as your own love nest, it's not exactly shocking if the men involved feel they almost have permission to get hands-on with the young women.

It's not even all that surprising that Anthony Gutierrez, one of the three aides to Dann who was fired today, felt entitled to undo the pants of one of the women while she was passed out drunk on his bed. He won't be charged with criminal conduct, according to a Dispatch report a few days ago. But his conduct goes beyond sexual harassment and really does constitute a form of sexual assault. Amanda Marcotte argued this already a few weeks ago. I was initially skeptical - but then I read about how the young woman woke up in Dann's condo with her pants unbuttoned, and with Gutierrez next to her wearing only his underwear. And it's really very simple: making sexual contact with someone who's passed out and unable to consent is against the law. I have no clue why Gutierrez isn't facing criminal charges. This is more than just a "hostile environment" civil case.

The women who brought the sexual harassment suit feel vindicated, according to another Dispatch report, though they also say there are other culpable people in the office who haven't gotten the discipline they deserve. And while I wish that none of this had happened in the first place, I'll admit I feel satisfied that these guys aren't going to just keep their jobs. Even though Dann is a Democrat - maybe because he's a Democrat and I'd like to think that our guys are being held to a standard of decency - I'd feel even better if he too joins the growing unemployment line. Because Dann did create a hostile environment for these young women. And let's not forget: As Ohio's top law enforcement official, Dann is the last person who should be exempt from the law.


Sugarmag said...

I am glad he is being held accountable and I don't blame you for your feelings of schadenfreude. I actually do have something against Hawaiian pizza, though. Pineapple on pizza? Yuck! I'll take the bourbon, though.

Sungold said...

That's so funny. I'm just the opposite. I can live without the ham very happily. But I adore pineapple on pizza. It's great with gorgonzola. Maybe you'll have to take it on faith!