Hillsborough commissioner Kevin White loses alibi in sexual discrimination lawsuit

TAMPA — Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White has lost a key alibi in his defense against a sexual discrimination lawsuit brought by a former aide.

His uncle has recanted a statement that White stayed the night at his home during a now infamous 2007 trip to Atlanta that is central to the suit.

The aide, Alyssa Ogden, has claimed White asked her to accompany him to Atlanta within days of hiring her in April 2007. While there, Ogden says, White showed up at her hotel room asking to share her bed, saying, "I just don't like to sleep by myself — I'm an only child."

The allegation has become a focal point in Odgen's case, according to more than 1,000 pages of pretrial testimony reviewed by the St. Petersburg Times this week.

One deposition also indicates that the FBI has questioned Ogden about White, but offers no details about the inquiries.

White's uncle, former pro football player Andre Moses White, who lives in Stone Mountain east of Atlanta, initially provided a written statement saying Ogden's account of what took place on the trip was impossible.

"I know that Kevin White did not spend the night in Ms. Ogden's hotel room because he spent the night in the guest room of my home," Andre White said in a November 2007 written statement.

Now the uncle says that he didn't realize what he was looking at when he signed the statement prepared by a lawyer for the county. He said he was taking pain medications at the time, doesn't recall signing the statement and now says it isn't true.

Andre White says he went to dinner April 5 with White, Ogden, Tampa newspaper publisher C. Blythe Andrews and another woman. Afterward, he says he went home and didn't see White until breakfast the next morning with Andrews.

The gap is the time period in question.

"Kevin White did not spend the night with me on this evening after I dropped off Mr. Andrews," he said in a March 10 videotaped deposition.

Asked if it was possible that his nephew slipped in after he went to bed, Andre White said it was not. He would have tripped the alarm, which the uncle said he never forgets to set.

"Two things I don't do: Forget to take — put my alarm on and sleep near my gun," Andre White said.

Ogden claims White twice called her cell phone from outside her room at a Marriott Hotel near Atlanta International Airport in the early morning hours of April 6 asking to be let inside. She says she relented but made him sleep in the other bed in her room.

She claims she was fired seven months later for refusing a series of sexual advances from White, including that one.

White, a Democrat, has denied making passes at Ogden or visiting her hotel room in Atlanta. He contends she was fired for poor job performance.

He claims that it was Ogden who requested to accompany him to Atlanta. White says that Andrews, who had met Ogden previously, offered to reimburse him for her plane ticket. He says in a deposition that he believed the two shared a romantic interest that he was merely helping facilitate.

Ogden was 22 at the time. Andrews, chairman of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper, is in his late 70s and is gravely ill. White is 44.

Attorneys for White and Ogden declined comment, and White's attorney said the commissioner was unavailable for comment. Claire Saady, an attorney hired by the county to represent its interests in the case, did not return a phone call.

Saady has already billed the county $93,833 for her work on the case through March, an amount on top of what White is likely to seek in reimbursement for his own lawyer. Lawyers and support staff for the County Attorney's Office have logged an additional 153 hours on the case.

In the depositions, Andrews vehemently denies a romantic interest in Ogden.

"I'm asking: Can you picture that," Andrews says in a Jan. 27 deposition, while insisting the trip was actually in September. "I can't even you know what straight. I have a terminal illness."

During the brief interview, limited in time because of Andrews' poor health, he calls White's depiction of events in Atlanta as a "triage of bull." He lashes out at the perceived betrayal.

"I treated this man like my own grandson," Andrews said. "His daddy — his grandfather was my — was one of my friends. And Mr. Andre Moses White is my best friend."

He denies offering to or reimbursing White for the cost of Ogden's plane ticket.

In White's own deposition, he acknowledges that he purchased a ticket on a separate flight to Atlanta for Ogden so as not to attract attention. Once there, White said, he met Ogden with a rental car and drove her to a luncheon with Andrews, no longer concerned about the appearance of traveling with a young aide.

He says he told her not to tell anyone they were going. His rationale: "I wasn't in Atlanta with Alyssa. Alyssa was there with other people. I just happened to be in the presence of the people, at the time, for a short period of time."

Among other details revealed in the depositions:

• Cell phone records for Ogden attached to Andrews' deposition confirm that White called her twice on April 6, at 2:20 a.m. and 2:23 a.m. Each call lasted a minute.

• White claims he placed the call after visiting bars in the Buckhead area north of downtown Atlanta by himself and while driving to his uncle's house. He said he was checking on Alyssa's welfare, knowing she was staying at the same hotel as Andrews.

That account doesn't square with the original statement signed by Andre White, now recanted, which said his nephew arrived at the Stone Mountain house around midnight.

• In a deposition of Ogden's mother, Diane Kaulave, she testifies that her daughter has been visited by FBI agents with questions about White. Kaulave said Ogden daughter was asked not to talk about the questions they asked her. She said her daughter has not shared details with her.

Staff writers Justin George and Jeff Testerman contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at varian@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3387.

To read previous coverage of the accusations against Kevin White, go to links.tampabay.com

Hillsborough commissioner Kevin White loses alibi in sexual discrimination lawsuit 04/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 1, 2009 12:13am]

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