By David Skolnick
Two workers have filed sexual harassment complaints against the administrator from Liberty.
Facing allegations he sexually harassed two female employees, an administrator for Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
The leave for Anthony S. Gutierrez of Liberty, Dann’s director of general services, took effect Monday. He is paid $87,500 annually.
“We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously,” said Dann in a prepared statement Monday. “In order to protect the interests and rights of all the parties involved, we believe it is prudent to place Mr. Gutierrez on leave during the course of the investigation.”
Two female attorney general employees, both 26, filed sexual harassment complaints last week against Gutierrez, 50, their boss.
The two women claim Gutierrez, a longtime friend of Dann, pressured them frequently to have sex, often saying “you owe me” in reference to getting them state jobs that pay $14 an hour.
Angie Smedlund, the attorney general’s Equal Employment Opportunity officer, was initially investigating the complaints. But later Monday, Dann appointed Ben Espy, executive assistant attorney general, and Julie Pfeiffer, assistant attorney general from the office’s Employment Law Section, to oversee the investigation.
Dann said that Smedlund felt she no longer could be impartial in the investigation because of comments from the complainants published in the Columbus Dispatch.
Gutierrez shares a Dublin condominium with Leo Jennings III, the attorney general’s communication chief. Dann, a Liberty Democrat, also lived there until he moved out in December.
Gutierrez, a former self-employed general contractor, also was a neighbor of Dann in Liberty.
The complaints are being investigated, Jennings said, adding the results will be released once the investigation concludes.
The Columbus Dispatch first reported Sunday on the complaints by Vanessa Stout of Dublin and Cindy Stankoski of New Albany, employees in the attorney general’s telecommunication office. Both remain employed by the attorney general.
The article stated the AG’s office is trying to settle the complaints.
The two women were quoted by the newspaper as being surprised when they were approached Wednesday by Smedlund, who, they say, suggested Gutierrez could be transferred and that the agency would “do anything you want” to resolve the matter without making it public. Both refused the proposal.
“We wouldn’t cover anything up,” Jennings told The Vindicator. “...We all take this very seriously. It will be a complete investigation.”
The time frame to finish the investigation isn’t known, he added.
“We want to be thorough,” Jennings said. “Any implication there’s not a full and thorough investigation is flat-out false. We resent any implication that we’d cover it up.”
The Dispatch reported that the complaint states less than three weeks after her Aug. 20, 2007, hiring date, Stankoski contends Gutierrez pressed her to have a drink with him after work. The two went out drinking, and she said she became intoxicated and increasingly uncomfortable with his sexual comments.
While they were out, Stankoski said Dann called Gutierrez asking them to come for pizza. Stankoski said she asked to lie down because she wasn’t feeling well. She woke up later, according to the complaint, with Gutierrez next to her in bed.
Like Stankoski, Stout said in her complaint that Gutierrez pressured her to go out with him shortly after she was hired. She also claimed he pressured her to have sex with him and that he called her personal cell telephone so often that she was forced to change her number.
The attorney general’s office provided e-mails Monday to The Vindicator between Smedlund and Stout and Stankoski.
In a March 27 e-mail to Smedlund, Stout wrote that she offered to give the office’s human resources department her “journal and personal cell phone records with call detail on it. They had advised me that they didn’t want them. Reason being, that all information would be public record.”
Stankoski wrote in a March 27 e-mail that she could meet with Smedlund on March 31.
“I will provide details at the time, as there are many,” she wrote.
Later that day, Stankoski also wrote that “the text messages I am referring to is a big part of this investigation.”
Dann hired Gutierrez on Feb. 5, 2007, a month after the attorney general took office.
At the time, Gutierrez had 27 tax liens and civil judgments filed against him and had once declared bankruptcy.
Gutierrez also owed $5,024.84 to the state in unpaid income taxes. The state settled with him and his wife, Lisa, on Jan. 5, 2007, for $3,095.34, according to records obtained by The Vindicator.
The couple also owed more than $10,000 in federal taxes, and were on a payment plan with the IRS.
Gutierrez tried his hand at politics with no success.
He unsuccessfully ran for Liberty Township trustee in 2005. When Dann was elected in November 2006 as attorney general, Gutierrez wanted to be appointed to Dann’s vacant state Senate seat. Instead, Capri Cafaro of Liberty — publicly endorsed by Dann — was selected to the job.