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Published: Thursday, 1/22/2009

Pair in Dann case get $247,500 each


COLUMBUS - Two women whose sexual harassment complaints led to the resignation of Ohio's former attorney general have reached a settlement with the state, officials said yesterday.

Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout will each receive $247,500 for reparations and attorney fees as part of the settlement.

They filed sexual harassment claims against Anthony Gutierrez, an aide to former Attorney General Marc Dann last year.

Attorney General Richard Cordray, a Democrat who took office this month, praised the women's courage in shedding light on the conduct of the office.

Niki Schwartz, an attorney chosen by both sides who tried to reach a previous settlement, said the deal announced yesterday was fair and reasonable. The women's attorney, Rex Elliott, had originally proposed a settlement worth about $900,000.

Mr. Dann said in an e-mailed statement that he felt the settlement was too generous.

"While I am sympathetic to the challenges that these women faced, in my view the facts do not support a payout of this magnitude," Mr. Dann said.

Mr. Gutierrez, was fired. Mr. Dann resigned in May.

A report by state investigators alleged he ran a vulgar and unprofessional office and misused campaign funds to make lavish payments to friends and family.

Mr. Dann said the report was biased and failed to document any substantive cases in which he had broken the law.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Elections Commission postponed today's hearing on accusations that Mr. Dann misused campaign funds.

Commission executive director Philip Richter says the 7-member panel wants more time to review what he says are complex and serious allegations.

Mr. Dann has denied allegations he improperly used campaign money for home repairs and family vacations.

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