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Published: Tuesday, 6/3/2008

Former Toledoan quits post with state attorney general s office


COLUMBUS Former Toledoan Joyce Chapple Tuesday submitted her resignation as chief operating officer of the Ohio Attorney General s office, but an office spokesman insisted the resignation has nothing to do with the office s recent troubles.

Jim Gravelle, spokesman for newly appointed Attorney General Nancy Hardin Rogers, said Ms. Chapple was not asked to quit.

"Not at all," he said. "She is not leaving until the 27th of June. She told me that an excellent job opportunity has come her way, but because she has not inked the contract, she s not saying what it is. It has zero to do with what s going on."

Director of human resources under former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, Ms. Chapple, 62, was criticized in an internal investigative report in early May for not responding quickly enough to sexual harassment accusations made against a top aide to then Attorney General Marc Dann.

Two other attorney general employees were fired that day and her immediate boss was asked to resign, but the report recommended only additional management training for Ms. Chapple.

Eventually even Mr. Dann was forced to resign after admitting that his own personal affair with an employee may have contributed to an office atmosphere that led to sexual harassment complaints against top aide Anthony Gutierrez.

Ms. Chapple earns $109,000 in her current job.

"It is very unfortunate that the acts of a few people have placed a dark cloud over the many accomplishments that have taken place in the past 17 months," she wrote in her letter. "I specifically have played a leadership, managerial, and hands-on role with many of the administrative initiatives."

Mr. Gravelle said it was coincidence that Ms. Chapple s letter was submitted the same day that Ms. Rogers announced a change in job title for Tom Winters. Mr. Winters served as first assistant attorney general under Mr. Dann and during the first few days of Ms. Rogers tenure.

Mr. Winters, however, will continue on as chief deputy attorney general at the same pay he received as first assistant. Mr. Gravelle said the change was necessary to avoid a potential conflict that a first assistant may have in cases involving the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, which has engaged in work for the office as special counsel.

Mr. Winters is a former partner with the firm. Mrs. Rogers husband, Doug, currently works there. Mr. Gravelle said the paperwork change eliminates a potential conflict involving both the attorney general and her first assistant.

Sheryl Creed Maxfield has taken on the title of first assistant but with no pay raise from her prior job as chief counsel. She has no conflict with Vorys.

Ms. Rogers, on leave as dean of Ohio State University s law school, was appointed by Gov. Ted Strickland to temporarily fill the void in the office until voters select a permanent replacement on Nov. 4. She will not be a candidate in the election.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com, or 614-221-0496

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