RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A judge tossed out a lawsuit today against City Council President Kathy Graziano. The $500,000 suit was filed by a former council aide over a sexual harassment claim at City Hall.
The judge called the lawsuit against Kathy Graziano, over reaching. He ruled she was protected from suits like this, and says he heard no evidence that Graziano manipulated anything or abused her power as council president.
Key members of city council, like Kathy Graziano, Bruce Tyler and even outspoken Marty Jewell testified in a hearing that lasted 5 hours. In the end the judge ruled Graziano was safe from a lawsuit like this.
"I do feel vindicated I do," Graziano said.
Graziano was sued by Jennifer Walle, the former aide to Council man Bruce Tyler. Walle alleges the aide to Graziano assaulted her in an office at City Hall and that Graziano tried to cover it up and force her to quit.
Judge Richard Taylor ruled many of the allegations "were not fair or founded by credible evidence." Walle's attorney says they knew all along the lawsuit was a long shot.
"We knew it would be an uphill battle to overcome sovereign immunity. It's a very tough standard under the law in Virginia," said Jennifer Walle's attorney Hayden Fisher.
Graziano called the suit a distraction for not only her but the entire city council.
"For the past 8 months I have been the target of character assassination by bizarre and untrue accusations. I'm glad to put this behind me and get with on my life," she said.
Council Marty Jewell, who made the allegations public, says Walle was young, and struggled with not wanting to get anyone in trouble.
"Clearly there's some break down here and I contend that the real evil is that she tried to report this to HR about Mr. Hathcock and was blocked privately while publicly Ms. Graziano is saying she has to file a written complaint," said Jewell.
While Jewell believes the city's sexual harassment policy needs a makeover, Graziano says the policy just wasn't followed.
"If you have policies and procedures investigations happen conclusions are reached. If you do not follow the policies and procedures then you have chaos and that's what we have had, said Graziano.
Again, this judge has thrown out the lawsuit against Kathy Graziano. What remains now is a battery suit against Kathy's former aide David Hathcock. No trial date has been set.