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Lawsuit: Aide was fired for refusing Hillsborough commissioner's sexual advances

TAMPA — A former aide to Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White sued the county in state court Friday, saying she was fired for refusing his "constant sexual advances and propositions.''

Alyssa Ogden, 23, worked for White for seven months before she was fired in November. She has previously made similar claims, first published in the St. Petersburg Times.

Ogden's lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, claims White repeatedly urged her to "give him a chance." The requests were coupled with promises of career advancement if she relented, the suit states.

"She was subjected to constant sexual advances and propositions by White,'' the suit claims. "Ogden repeatedly told White she was not interested in a relationship, and to leave her alone.''

The suit said she was ultimately fired for refusing.

White, 43 and married with children, has previously said that Ogden was fired for poor work performance, documented in an evaluation shortly before her termination. He has denied making sexual advances toward her.

The lawsuit says White at least twice asked her to give him a kiss while at County Center, and in one case, he pulled her toward him, then threw a stack of $100 bills at her when she refused, saying, "Just take it, just give me a chance."

The suit says White made "inappropriate comments'' about Ogden's body, and also asked her if she would "get him a chance'' with her sister.

On a number of occasions, the suit alleges, White brought others into the office to try to persuade Ogden to submit. In one such instance, White's father told her she could "go to (the) top" if she would agree to a relationship, the suit claims.

Two days after she was hired, the suit says, White asked Ogden to go to Atlanta with him on a business trip. There, the suit claims, he tried to sleep in the same hotel bed with her.

She previously told the Times that, in making the request, White told her, "I just don't like to sleep by myself — I'm an only child."

The lawsuit claims White offered not to give her a negative work evaluation in her personnel file in September if she relented to his advances. It says he warned that he could fire her.

In October, the suit claims, White admitted to Ogden that he had hired her for "ulterior motives," and said she was costing him money because he was having to "fly a girl to Orlando for the weekend."

He offered Ogden one last chance to engage in a relationship with him, and when she once more said no, White warned her she would regret it, the suits says.

He fired her the next month.

Attempts to reach Ogden and her attorney, Ronald Fraley, late Friday were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit does not name White as a defendant, which he noted when reached Friday. He declined to comment further on advice of counsel.

Ogden has also filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is unresolved. A companion complaint was also filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

The suit names Hillsborough County as a defendant, although it does not indicate that Ogden raised concerns to anyone about her treatment before losing her job.

"We're reviewing the lawsuit and will prepare a defense," said Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee. "That's the extent of our comments at this point."

Bill Varian can be reached at varian@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3387.

Lawsuit: Aide was fired for refusing Hillsborough commissioner's sexual advances 05/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2008 1:35pm]
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