Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Prosecutor Who Lost Her Harassment Suit Takes Out Papers to Challenge Cooley for District Attorney
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A 15-year prosecutor who lost a sexual harassment suit against the District Attorney’s Office and was ordered to pay over $100,000 in attorney fees has taken out papers to challenge District Attorney Steve Cooley in his bid for a second term.
Denise B. Moehlman’s suit was dismissed last year. She claimed that she had received unjustifiably low performance ratings after complaining more than 10 years ago about a colleague—no longer with the office—who had exposed himself to her.
The suit alleged she has not been promoted since 1995 as a result of the complaint and that a pattern of unresolved sexual harassment complaints and retaliation against the complainants exists within the office.
The dismissal was affirmed on appeal. Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Parkin, sitting on assignment, said the suit was frivolous and ordered Moehlman to pay $111,562 in attorney fees last July.
According to press reports, Parkin said Moehlman had “made a sham of the proceedings” in the trial of her lawsuit and had wasted the time of high officials, including the former district attorney, Gil Garcetti.
An appeal of the attorney fee order is still pending. Moehlman told the Los Angeles Times that she spurned a settlement offer that would have waived the fees entirely in exchange for her resignation from the District Attorney’s Office.
Phone messages left at Moehlman’s office and at the contact number she gave to the registrar’s office—the San Fernando Valley office of the National Organization for Women—were not returned late yesterday.
Another deputy district attorney, Tom Higgins, has also announced plans to challenge Cooley. The incumbent formally announced his expected candidacy last week.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company