Rep. John Arnold accused of sexual harassment

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by Chelsea Rabideau

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 11:50 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 22 at 8:08 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Kentucky representative John Arnold has been accused in two ethics complaints. Two women say he made inappropriate advances and comments toward them. Now, a Louisville democrat is coming to their defense and lashing out at Arnold.

Representative Tom Riner said he learned about the accusations of sexual assault and harassment from a report on Louisville radio station WFPL. Two women, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, long time Kentucky state house employees filed an ethics complaint. Riner says it’s time for lawmakers to take action. “You cannot put this off until the next election. You cannot put this off until tomorrow,” he said.

He spoke on the House floor in front of a hushed crowd to condemn the alleged harassment. “These are not prudish people who are afraid for you to hug them,” he said, “What they don’t want is people to mistreat them.”

We spoke to Riner about his decision to speak. He’s been trying to help women through the painful ordeal of reporting sexual assault and harassment for decades. “I thought, well, this is a terrible thing. But, it’s also our opportunity to get it right.”

While he spoke of what these women reportedly dealt with for several years, Riner says there were snickers in the crowd, which he addressed immediately, saying, “A lot of you guys are kind of giggling and you think that this is over the top. Well, if it made your blood pressure go through the roof, maybe you wouldn’t think that.” Riner explained that family members are so concerned about the safety of the women who filed the reports, that they must know where they are at all times. “This is not a laughing matter,” he told the crowd.

Riner spoke for more than 15 minutes. His speech ended with a standing ovation.

Republicans allege that top House Democrats, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo knew about the alleged incidents and did nothing, going so far as to question whether it was a Democratic cover up. Stumbo says he had only heard rumors of the complaints against Representative Arnold, but had no firsthand knowledge.

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