The retired Summit County sheriff’s detective hired by Youngstown to investigate sexual harassment claims filed by Lyndsey Hughes against DeMaine Kitchen, the former mayor’s chief of staff/secretary, was permitted to spend up to $10,000 for his work.
The bill from Steve Sample’s company, Sample Security and Investigation Inc., is just under that amount. The board of control will consider approving a $9,990 bill from Sample today.
Sample was paid $60 an hour, so he spent 166.5 hours on the investigation that determined Kitchen sexually harassed Hughes both verbally and through text messages. The report didn’t address claims by Hughes’ lawyers that Kitchen physically harassed their client.
Sample started the investigation Oct. 7 at the request of the city and concluded it Dec. 7. Kitchen resigned four days before the report was released.
While Sample’s bill is itemized by date, nearly all of the descriptions are vague. Most are listed as “interviews in Youngstown,” “paperwork,” and “phone interviews.”
Sample’s bill does not include the additional cost of electronic laboratory fees that verified text messages on Hughes’ cellphone that came from Kitchen, who lost last month’s mayoral race to Democrat John McNally IV. City Law Director Anthony Farris said he doesn’t know how much that additional expense will cost the city.
The messages from Kitchen to Hughes included: “Ur my girl and I’ve been attracted” to you, and “I just don’t u to treat me like a stalker or something:-). It’s urs if u ever want it tho.”
The sexual harassment claim became an issue during the mayoral campaign with Kitchen denying he sexually harassed Hughes, the city’s downtown director of events, special projects and marketing. While Sample’s 67-page report made very few conclusions, it did state Kitchen sexually harassed Hughes.
Hughes and her attorneys are considering filing lawsuits against the city and individuals, including Kitchen, in federal or state court or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.