Lowry to Pay $97,500 to Settle Sex-Harassment Claim
SEATTLE (AP) _ Gov. Mike Lowry has agreed to pay $97,500 to a former spokeswoman who accused him of sexual harassment, without admitting he did anything wrong, his attorney said Friday.
Lowry will pay Susanne Albright out of his own pocket beginning with $65,000 immediately, another $7,500 on Feb. 1, and the final $25,000 on Feb. 1, 1997.
``I believe this was a very positive action. I certainly hope it is positive for Susanne Albright, a person who we care very much about,″ Lowry said at a news conference with his wife, Mary, at his side.
Albright, who resigned her $48,000-a-year post in January, claiming she had suffered persistent groping, lewd remarks and angry outbursts from Lowry, said she was glad the governor, and not the taxpayers, were footing the bill.
``Unfortunately, the way to right wrongs in our society is to pay money,″ she said.
Lowry’s lawyer, John Wolfe, said the governor settled because he was afraid a lawsuit would interfere with his ability to govern and was worried about the effect it would have on friends, family and supporters.
Albright, who now works for a Seattle public relations firm, said she was permanently scarred by the experience.
``That money can never make me feel the way I felt before it happened,″ Albright, 37, said. ``I’m still doing therapy, but I am feeling better.″
Lowry has insisted he did nothing inappropriate, although he apologized for any offense his actions might have caused others.
An investigator hired by the governor’s office concluded in a report this spring that Lowry had repeatedly offended Albright, but the behavior probably would not meet the legal test of sexual harassment.
Lowry, a first-term Democrat, admits he has been badly hurt politically by the allegations. He has not decided whether to seek re-election next year.
State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt acknowledged the development is ``devastating″ for Lowry’s re-election chances.
``But finally we can put the issue behind us once and for all,″ Berendt said.