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Army Settles Sex Harassment Lawsuit

June 20, 1998

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ A civilian lawyer who claimed an Army colonel sexually harassed her and the service retaliated when she complained has settled a lawsuit for a $500,000 payment.

``To me, it is a pretty clear indication the Army considered it a significant risk or they would not have offered the settlement of this size,″ said Guy Sternal, an attorney for Kelly Theriot. ``It is a lot of money.″

Under the settlement _ which did not include an admission of wrongdoing by the Army _ Theriot must also find a new job. She was one of the military’s six legal experts in medical malpractice and other issues that confront big regional hospitals.

Theriot, 36, said then-Col. Darrel Porr, her former boss at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, sexually harassed her and created a hostile work environment that made her miserable and hampered her ability to be his legal adviser.

She said the unwanted attention was less upsetting than the relentless retaliation and a stalled career that followed when she filed an internal complaint and, eventually, the federal lawsuit.

A trial in U.S. District Court in Tacoma ended in a hung jury last month. A second trial had been scheduled for Aug. 18.

Porr declined comment Friday. At trial, Porr, 50, now the general who commands the 44th Medical Brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C., denied her claims that he stroked her arm, tried to kiss her on the lips and made personal or suggestive remarks. He said he knew nothing of a conspiracy to discredit her.

Porr was a decorated former Green Beret officer who served in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and in the Gulf War. Along the way, he got his medical degree and moved up in military medical administration.

During the trial, Theriot’s lawyers put less emphasis on the harassment contentions and more on the allegations that she was illegally forced to pay a price for filing a harassment complaint and civil lawsuit.

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