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Senator sued over harassment claim

A woman claims state Sen. George Kirkpatrick intimidated, degraded and vociferously confronted her.

A state senator is being sued by a former employee of an organization he heads. She alleges he verbally harassed her so badly she suffered an on-the-job stroke.

Rosa Carolyn West says in a suit filed in Leon County Circuit Court that state Sen. George Kirkpatrick, R-Gainesville, "intimidated, degraded and confronted (her) in a threatening and vociferous manner" almost daily from October 1995, when he became executive director of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida Inc., until 1999.

She also is suing the group, which represents most of Florida's independent colleges except the University of Miami. She claims its board was told of Kirkpatrick's behavior and failed to respond to the complaints.

West said her final day on the job was Sept. 14, when Kirkpatrick screamed at her for not having any of his state Senate stationery available and told her not to leave while he went to his Senate office to retrieve some. She said she felt confused and disoriented and went to a hospital, where it was discovered she had suffered a stroke.

West, whose age was not available, said she can no longer work. She was terminated by the group Dec. 31.

The Gainesville Sun reported that Kirkpatrick, 61, could not be reached for comment. He will leave the Senate in November after 20 years, forced out by term limits. As of last year, he earned $122,000 as independent college group's executive director.

Bob Boyd, the group's attorney, said "these are allegations, not facts. We are going to vigorously defend and respond at the appropriate time."

The suit was filed last week.

_ Information from the Gainesville Sun was used in this report.

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