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Ex-NC Dems staffer sues chairman in sex harassment scandal

Posted June 14, 2012
Updated June 17, 2012

— A former staffer of the North Carolina Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Thursday against the party and its chairman, David Parker, over a sexual harassment claim the staffer made last fall.

Adriadn Ortega says Parker defamed him during an April news conference when he said Ortega made up allegations of sexual harassment against the party's former director, Jay Parmley. Ortega is also alleging that Parker violated a confidential settlement agreement by discussing the claims publicly.

The lawsuit contends that Parker defamed Ortega by indirectly calling him a liar and extortionist.

Last year, after he was terminated, Ortega filed a complaint with the state Democratic Party alleging that Parmley had sexually harassed him on several occasions.

In a Dec. 8, 2011, letter addressed to Parmley, Ortega described some of those encounters: "(Parmley) often solicited my opinion about his clothes. He would point both hands to his crotch area and ask me how his crotch looked in those pants that day."

Ortega also alleged that Parmley "would frequently pretend to punch my crotch and make a popping noise with his mouth."

On other occasions, Ortega alleged, Parmley "showed me a picture of his penis" and gave unwanted shoulder rubs despite Ortega's objections.

Ortega said he had brought these concerns to the attention of the state Democratic Party in October, more than a month before he was fired. 

Several months later, Parker, on behalf of the party, entered into a confidential separation agreement with Ortega. The conditions of that agreement, the lawsuit states, included that the state Democratic Party would keep the terms of the sexual harassment settlement confidential and refrain from making any disparaging remarks about Ortega.

NC Democratic Party Chairman David Parker NC Democratic Party chairman news conference

A third party sent Ortega's complaint against Parmley to WRAL News in April. A short time after the accusations were reported, Parmley resigned.

On April 19, Parker addressed the scandal during a news conference in which he dismissed all claims of harassment against Parmley. He said discussions between Parmley and Ortega about clothing were "just normal discourse" and that "there was nothing sexual about" Parmley's pretend punches to Ortega's crotch, the lawsuit states.

Parker accused Ortega of lying in his sworn statement to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding the harassment.

"It is a crime, if I understand the law, if he lies in that statement," Parker said.

He also said Ortega's letter to Parmley "smacked of extortion."

The lawsuit contends that those remarks were an attack on "Ortega's reputation, honesty and integrity" and that they were an attempt to redirect scrutiny from Parker and the party. 

Ortega is seeking monetary compensation and an apology.

Shortly after Parmley's resignation in April, state leaders began calling for Parker to resign as well.

He initially refused, then resigned during a raucous meeting of party leaders in May. Six hours later, the party voted him back in as chairman.

The state Democratic Party has not commented on the lawsuit.

24 Comments

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  • superman Jun 15, 4:51 p.m.

    Pleae read the posting before you comment. He brought it to their attention and then they did nothing. He was later fired and then he filed the complaint.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 15, 4:17 p.m.

    "...after he was terminated, Ortega filed a complaint with the state Democratic Party alleging that Parmley had sexually harassed him on several occasions."

    He waited until AFTER he was terminated to say that?

    Interesting! And sheds doubt on his story in my mind.

  • SmokeWagon Jun 15, 3:47 p.m.

    Awwwwwww what's wrong....did his little entitlement, utopian world come crashing down....?????

  • Karmageddon Jun 15, 2:21 p.m.

    Oh how they stumble and fall.....I bet the DNC would like to move their convention

  • ljohnson247 Jun 15, 1:17 p.m.

    Sounds like normal business for the Dems to us.

  • bichonman Jun 15, 12:41 p.m.

    No wonder Bev Perdue wants out of town.

  • cjtelesca Jun 15, 12:03 p.m.

    Of course this isn't a Republican plot to distract Democrats in the 2010 election cycle! ;-)

    Sallie Leslie has apologized for making her statement about Jay being a sexual predator. She never saw anything!

    This just goes to show how desperate the GOP is to win. They can't win in the marketplace of ideas alone - they have to cheat and try every dirty trick in the book. And whether or not someone is guilty of what they are charged of is for the courts to decide - if we back down every time the GOP tries something dirty like this we'll never win. We have to fight back.

    There will of course be a motion for summary judgement in court and I expect that is where the case will be thrown out. Because I haven't talked to a single person who doesn't think that his complain and later threat to sue doesn't smell to high heaven and that letter Adriadn wrote in December reads like anything OTHER than an extortion demand.

    The Republicans should remember that "discovery" is a two-way street!

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Jun 15, 11:50 a.m.

    Don't you know that if you call a homosexual a predetor, "they" will come after you?

    Say anything about a negative homosexual or what they do and you will be crucified.

  • mc2 Jun 15, 10:43 a.m.

    Many of the readers missed the point - Ortega's corroborator just changed her story. Sally Leslie retracted her claims that supported Ortega. Earlier this week, Leslie apologized to Parmley for making the "Unsubstantiated" charge that he was a "predator." This never was anything more than a tempest-in-a-teapot. Ortega's suit is frivilous, but it has ruined his career with the Democratic Party - since his lawyer is a Republican who essentially works for Art Pope.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Jun 15, 9:19 a.m.

    What is alarming is people who use power to aid their sexual prowess. Sandusky is on trial for raping young boys for years because they were afraid no one would believe them. Ortega filed a complaint because he was being sexually harrassed which is AGAINSt THE LAW and instead of firing Jay Parmley, a back door deal was made for Ortega's silence. Regardless of the situation now, it is beyond DISGUSTING that members within the NC Democratic Party did not want David Parker to be dismissed.

    This whole episode reeks of the most disgusting actions held by people who think they can use power to sweep unlawful acts under the rug and then try to defame the victim.

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