Graziano, City want judge to dismiss harassment lawsuit - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Graziano, City want judge to dismiss harassment lawsuit

Kathy Graziano Kathy Graziano
David Hathcock David Hathcock

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond and its council president want a judge to throw out a sexual harassment lawsuit. Jennifer Walle, the former aid to council member Bruce Tyler, is suing Kathy Graziano, her aide, David Hathcock, and the city for $500,000.

We obtained court documents that outline Graziano, the City of Richmond and Hathcock's defense to this lawsuit. We took them to our legal analyst who says in the end this case will likely come down to he said/she said.

Walle alleges battery and that there was the intentional infliction of mental distress. NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin says the latter is much harder to prove.

"You're talking about intentional outrageous conduct that certainly would cause extreme mental distress. A mother or father seeing their child intentionally run over by the driver of a car," he said.

Walle says in April of 2010 Hathcock came into her office at city hall and harmfully and offensively touched her on the bottom after pulling her onto a chair. Walle says Hathcock tried to kiss her and when she reported what happened to council president Graziano, she was told, "either quit or deal with it."

Outside a courthouse earlier this month Walle told us, "It was very difficult to go into work day after day. It was like, not only had David done this to me, but the fact that Kathy had allowed everything to continue."

In a new round of court documents, David Hathcock repeatedly denies the allegations. Graziano also denies the statements, and along with the city cites, sovereign immunity.

"Meaning that because its the city being sued and she's being sued in her capacity as agent of the city. They're protected from lawsuit," said Benjamin. He says the case against the city and Graziano is a stretch. He says he wouldn't be surprised if in the end, there's only one lawsuit standing -- the battery claim against Hathcock.

"The only question is going to be 'Did you touch her like this? Did you say these things? Did you do these things?'" Benjamin said.

A judge will decide who this case moves forward at a hearing next month. Hathcock recently took a deal from prosecutors and agreed to perform 100 hours of community service in exchange for his criminal charges being dropped.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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