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WARREN Judge grants new trial for ex-secretary



Published: Fri, September 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



In his ruling, the judge said it's highly likely that a previous verdict was based on falsetestimony.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A defense lawyer's misconduct has caused a verdict in his favor to be set aside, a visiting judge has ruled.

Judge Dominick E. Olivito, a visiting judge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, ruled Thursday that Karen Longstreth, a former secretary of Atty. George Kafantaris, will be granted a new trial. A new trial date has not been set.

"In this case, there is a high probability, if not a certainty, that the jury's verdict was based on the false testimony of the defendant, specifically that testimony that he and the plaintiff engaged in consensual sexual intercourse, or, as he termed it, made love," the judge stated in his 14-page ruling.

"On the evidence before this court that assertion is probably false."

Legal fees: Judge Olivito ruled Thursday that the verdict is set aside and that Kafantaris, who has represented himself, must pay Longstreth's legal fees of $13,433.92.

Kafantaris' sister, Atty. Irene Makridis, assisted him during the trial.

Kafantaris said he is "shocked and stunned" by the judge's ruling and plans to appeal.

"This judge certainly had an about-face," Kafantaris said. "I'm totally surprised."

Atty. Louis J. Licata, who represents Longstreth, said he is "thrilled."

Original suit: Longstreth filed a lawsuit against Kafantaris in June 1999. The suit stated that Kafantaris forced her to submit to sexual intercourse with him on Oct. 20, 1998, in her apartment and that she was sexually harassed while working for him in 1998.

The case was brought to trial in April and on May 7, the jury ruled in Kafantaris' favor -- saying they did not believe Longstreth was a victim of sexual harassment or battery.

The judge's ruling also states that Kafantaris stated in a deposition before trial that he did not have sexual relations with Longstreth, but then changed his testimony during the trial.

"The change in defendant's defense strategy and his testimony near the end of the trial without warning of change in his defense to the plaintiff prevented the plaintiff from having a fair trial," the judge stated.




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