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Official says whistleblower's complaints unsubstantiated

Published Sep. 3, 2005

Allegations that senior managers at the state Board of Administration ignored sexual harassment aren't substantiated, an inspector general concluded Wednesday.

The allegations had held up a manager's bid to become its chief.

Gov. Jeb Bush and the other trustees of the agency that invests state money put the search for a new director on hold in May because of a whistleblower's complaint against the top prospect.

Bush, Comptroller Bob Milligan and Treasurer Tom Gallagher oversee the board, which invests Florida's $100-billion pension fund.

The board's executive director, Tom Herndon, wants to retire, and Herndon's deputy, Coleman Stipanovich, is the trustees' top choice to succeed him.

In her complaint, Debby Jane Minot alleged that Stipanovich and Herndon fostered a hostile work environment by tolerating sexual harassment.

Wednesday's report by Chief Inspector General Derry Harper concluded that the allegations were not substantiated.

"Management did in fact conduct an investigation of sexual harassment allegedly committed by a male employee," Harper's report said. "Disciplinary action was taken and placed on file."

The investigation into allegations that Stipanovich verbally abused Minot was inconclusive, the report said, "because of irreconcilable conflicts in the statements of the individuals involved."

Minot claimed that, in a meeting, Stipanovich said he would "crush" her.

Minot called the investigation weak and the report poor.

"It shows a very biased judgment," she said. "It looks like the Chief Inspector General's Office backed into their response."