Published April 22, 2008
The release of more than 2,000 e-mails between Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann and his one-time scheduler, Jessica Utovich, do not show a romantic connection, although they reveal a familiarity between boss and employee that makes the skin crawl.
But cooing (mostly on Utovich's part) does not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Absent proof that the relationship caused Dann to violate his oath of office in any way, he will not resign. On Friday, as reporters awaited the release of the e-mails, the rumor mill was running overtime about the attorney general being on the verge of resigning.
He didn't quit Friday, nor did he do so Monday, when the electronic communication between him and Utovich was made public.
Indeed, Dann of Liberty Township intends to hold a press conference shortly after the findings of an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against one of his top mangers, Anthony Gutierrez, a close friend of his also from Liberty, are made public.
Two women who worked under Gutierrez have alleged that he sexually harassed them. One also filed a criminal complaint against him with the Columbus police department.
Gutierrez and another top manager, Leo Jennings III of Poland, another close friend of the attorney general's, are on paid administrative leave.
Dann's relationship with Utovich has grabbed the attention of reporters because she was in the condo one night — Dann once shared the condo with Gutierrez and Jennings — when Gutierrez and Cindy Stankoski showed up. They had been drinking in several bars in downtown Columbus when Dann invited them to stop by for pizza. Stankoski claims that she felt sick sometime during the night and asked to lie down. Gutierrez directed her to his room, she alleges, and that when she awoke several hours later the buttons to her pants were undone and Gutierrez was lying next to her in his underwear.
That incident was the basis for her criminal complaint. Columbus police announced today that they would not file criminal charges against Gutierrez.
Dann will have to answer reporters' questions not only about what took place that night, but also will be asked about his own behavior and his relationship with Utovich, who now has a higher paying job as the office's travel coordinator.
The e-mails released Monday prompt more questions than they answer, which is why Dann's shrugging off talk about his resigning could be premature.