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Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White didn't make inappropriate comments to aide, his father testifies

TAMPA — The father of Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White told a federal court jury Wednesday that he never saw any inappropriate behavior involving a young female aide.

White's father, Gerald White, described several lunch meetings at which inappropriate things were allegedly said to Kevin White's 22-year-old assistant, Alyssa Ogden.

Ogden, who was eventually fired, is suing Kevin White for sexual discrimination.

Gerald White said he never heard anything inappropriate and didn't encourage Ogden to cultivate a personal relationship with his son.

"It never happened in my presence. I wouldn't have disrespected my daughter (in law) and grandchildren that way," he told jurors in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

If anyone showed an interest in Ogden, it was C. Blythe Andrews, the 77-year-old owner of Tampa's Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper, Gerald White testified. Shortly after taking the county job, Ogden joined White on an April 2007 trip to Atlanta, where they met up with Andrews.

Andrews gave Ogden $250 to $300 for no apparent reason on three different occasions, Gerald White testified. Andrews was also seen giving other young women substantial sums of money, according to White.

Gerald White said that he spoke with Kevin White's uncle, Andre Moses White, the day they were leaving Atlanta.

"Andre called me and told me that Mr. Andrews had been made a fool of again," White testified, noting that Andre White said Andrews had bought clothes for Ogden.

Ogden's lawsuit says White fired her for refusing his multiple sexual advances during the seven months she worked for him in 2007. She is seeking at least $145,000 in damages.

At trial, Ogden has been forced to acknowledge repeatedly that she didn't tell the county human resources office, law enforcement or anyone other than her sister about the alleged incidents. She said she didn't know whom to tell.

Gerald White also testified that his son spent one night during the trip at his uncle's Atlanta-area house. Ogden has testified that White called her from a cell phone three times in the early morning hours from outside her hotel room asking to be let in. His cell phone records show three brief calls placed after 2 a.m. that day.

Also Wednesday, Kevin White's wife, Jennie White, testified that she was present during one of the alleged incidents. Ogden claims White made a pass at her during the August 2007 funeral for slain Hillsborough sheriff's Sgt. Ron Harrison. Jennie White said she was at her husband's side the whole time and never saw any private conversation or heard any inappropriate remarks.

"I would not allow that. He would not do that in front of me," she said.

Kevin White was called to the stand late Wednesday morning and is expected to continue testifying today.

Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White didn't make inappropriate comments to aide, his father testifies 08/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 21, 2009 6:34pm]
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