Rep. John Arnold cleared of violations


by Brooke Hasch, Joe Arnold

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 8 at 11:55 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- One of three capitol workers who filed sexual harassment complaints against former Rep. John Arnold is talking about a commission's decision not to punish him.

The decision came down Tuesday afternoon, after tearful testimonies from three women, who relived some of their worst days on the job.

"I felt someone grab the back of my pants and pull my underwear and I screamed," Yolanda Costner said.

"All of a sudden, I felt a smack on my behind," Cassuandra Cooper said.

"He put his hand, it was going up and down my back to the top of my bra and down," Gloria Morgan said.

All three women had hoped for some kind of punishment, retribution, even a simple acknowledgement of the harassment they felt from one of their colleagues. But Tuesday's ruling by the Legislative Ethics Commission only increased the tears.

"I'm just disappointed in the person who voted no. I pray it's not political," Costner said.

Though four of the five commission members present Tuesday found former State Rep. John Arnold guilty of abusing his position as a public official, state law requires five votes to fine or sanction someone. The fifth vote came from Elmer George, who voted no - saying the commission has no role because Arnold is no longer a member of the General Assembly.

"I wanted the ethics commission to basically say he was guilty of it," Costner said. "Acknowledge it was wrong."

Arnold resigned in September, one month after the accusations surfaced. In December, a special House committee appointed to investigate him disbanded, citing the same reason. Arnold's attorney, Steven Downey, spoke in his absence Tuesday, saying Arnold was not in good health and added he was unfit to hold office when he was in office, citing progressive dementia.

"Mr. Arnold's filters have been turned off. So, those things need to be considered in terms of intentionality and fairness to any penalty that you think should be imposed," Downey said.

Costner called the news of his illness a cop-out.

"When I speak up about it, I'm ousted as a bad person. And now it's like, 'poor John.' He's sick." Costner said.

Costner's fight continues. She and another plaintiff are looking ahead, to a pending civil suit of peers, rather than politicians.