Complaint: KY Rep. Harassed Female Legislator

Democratic state rep currently under investigation for harassing several staff members

Kentucky Rep. John Arnold, Jr.
September 5, 2013

A female legislator in the Kentucky state House was inappropriately touched by Democratic state Rep. John Arnold, Jr., according to a sexual harassment complaint filed against the state representative.

Two complaints obtained by the Washington Free Beacon reveal the extent of the allegations against Arnold, which range from Arnold grabbing the underwear of a staffer as they walked up the steps of the state capital, slapping a woman’s backside, and lewd remarks.

Arnold is currently facing formal complaints from three Legislative Research Commission (LRC) employees, who work for various members in the state House.

In a complaint filed by Cassaundra Cooper, an aide to House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D.), it was revealed that Arnold also allegedly touched a female legislator.

According to the document, Cooper had a meeting with officials from the LRC to discuss the allegations against Arnold in February 2013.

During the meeting, LRC Director Bobby Sherman confirmed that the allegations were true, including "touching" a female legislator, and that this was not the first time they had investigated Arnold for his behavior.

Those present at the meeting were Sherman, LRC Personnel Director Roy Collins, LRC Attorney Laura Hendricks, and Yolanda Costner, who also filed a complaint against Arnold.

"Bobby told them that they found our complaint to be true," the complaint reads. "They had talked with [a female legislator] about Rep. John Arnold touching her as well as the LRC Staffer and Rep. [Reginald] Meeks recalled Rep. John Arnold grabbing Yolanda’s underwear."

According to Ms. Costner’s complaint, "Bobby and Roy had talked with [a female legislator] about Rep. John Arnold, touching [her] on the thigh and rubbing her shoulders."

"LRC promised Yolanda and Cassaundra that his actions would not be tolerated," the complaint said, though the agency told the women they had no power over Arnold since he is "an elected official."

"They informed Yolanda and Cassaundra that due to the fact that Rep. Arnold is an elected official they are unable to do anything to him except remove staff from him or Leadership can strip him of his legislative duties," the complaint said. "They had to get permission from Leadership to talk with Rep. Arnold about his actions."

"This is not the first time they have had to investigate a case involving him," the complaint continued, "therefore they do not believe Rep. Arnold was targeting African American women only—he has done this to other staffers that were white."

During the meeting the officials said they had told Arnold to stay out of the work areas of Cooper and Costner, and instructed him to have "no contact."

Arnold, however, repeatedly violated these instructions for months, including taking smoking breaks in their offices and laying down for naps.

"Rep. Arnold spends the majority of his time smoking in the men's restroom or lounging in Cassaundra or Yolanda’s offices in the capital," the complaint said.

The complaint also goes into detail how Arnold grabbed "the back of [Costner’s] underwear and pulled her pants" in March 2010. "Yolanda screamed as she almost fell backwards down the Capitol Annex steps," the complaint said.

Arnold laughed and told her, "I just could not resist grabbing those fancy red lace panties."

He also allegedly screamed at Costner, calling her an "asshole" for reporting to her boss, House Majority Whip Tommy Thompson (D.), that Arnold was smoking in his office.

The next day Arnold came into Ms. Costner’s office and began putting his hands on her shoulders. "As Rep. Arnold began to rub and massage Yolanda’s shoulders he begins to by saying ‘hello,’" the complaint said.

Calls to Rep. Arnold’s office for comment were not returned.