Memo details sexual harassment by ex-Ohio state senator
CLEVELAND (AP) — A memo detailing a female state employee’s sexual harassment complaint against an Ohio state senator who abruptly resigned says he repeatedly asked her to have sex with him.
The memo concerning complaints against former State Sen. Cliff Hite was written by the director of the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the agency where the woman is an attorney. The memo was released Friday after public records requests by news organizations that include The Associated Press.
Hite, a Republican from Findlay, resigned Oct. 16 without explanation. Two days later, Hite, 63, issued a statement on Twitter apologizing for his behavior and saying he had inappropriate conversations with a female state employee who worked in another state office and not for him. He said he “sometimes asked her for hugs.” He said the inappropriate physical contact went no further.
The memo written by Mark Flanders details allegations of sexual harassment by Hite that began in early August and continued into October.
Hite issued a statement Saturday that said he was “dismayed” after reading the memo. He said that he disagrees with “many representations” in the woman’s complaint, “some of which I don’t believe happened, were misunderstood, or were portrayed inaccurately.”
The memo says the woman first spoke with Hite and “exchanged pleasantries” on the way from the steps of the Statehouse to a parking garage. A week later, according to the memo, the woman saw Hite in the parking garage and told him it would be inappropriate when he asked that she “look him up” on Facebook. She finally accepted a friend request from him when she saw that people she knew were listed as friends, but then blocked him after he began sending messages and asking questions about her personal life and whether she missed him.
Hite then stopped by her office asking why he’d been blocked and was again told it was inappropriate, the memo said. That’s when, according to the memo, he began asking to have sex with the woman at his condominium, telling her he’d had an affair while discussing details about sex with his wife.
The memo said Hite spent about an hour telling her he was a “grown man with needs” while badgering her about having sex despite being told “no” numerous times.
“She said she was extremely uncomfortable and nervous during the exchange,” Flanders’ memo said.
Hite continued stopping by the woman’s office through September, the memo said, asking her if she’d changed her mind about having sex and at one point hugged her.
The memo said the woman called out sick for two days because of the stress Hite had caused.
According to the memo, the woman said “she knew the conversations were out of line, but that he was a senator. She stated she didn’t want to embarrass him. She just wanted the situation to go away.”
On Oct. 10, Hite went to her office and asked her to attend a reception with him, then hugged her and told her “she felt really good, the memo said. The next day, he brought her two bouquets of flowers, asked her to have sex and told her the flowers were from “your secret admirer.” She said that later he was waiting for her in the parking garage in his convertible and asked her if this was offensive to her.
According to the memo, she replied, “Every minute.”
The woman filed her complaint against Hite that same day.
Hite acknowledged in his statement on Saturday that “some of what I said during conversations” with the woman “was inappropriate discussion for a married man, father and grandfather.”
“But I thought the conversational tone, as well as mild flirtation, was welcome and reciprocated,” Hite said.