Sexual-harassment Suit Targets Cleo Kirk

| June 22, 2006
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The Flyer has learned that Shelby County Commissioner Cleo Kirk is the subject of a sexual harassment suit filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by longtime commission employee Lynne Ford; the suit alleges that Kirk, unnamed in the document but identified by several sources as the subject, subjected her to "a sexually hostile work environment” in which she was the recipient of ”unsolicited and unwanted sexual advances" and was "hugged, groped, [with] breast and buttocks fondled and kissed."

Ford, who has worked for the commission since September 1993, said the actions alleged in the complaint occurred from January to April of this year; she said he had asked "not [to] perform work for him any more," but "the status of my job went unchanged."

Kirk, a long-serving member was one of five commissioners term-limited this year by state Supreme Court decree. His name remained on the ballot in a losing race against Sidney Chism. Commissioner Kirk declined comment and referred all inquiries to County Attorney Brian Kuhn.

Kuhn, who would neither confirm nor deny Kirk’s identity, said the county’s legal representation in the matter had been outsourced to the law firm of Harrison and Ford to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

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