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Sunday September 25th, 2016 1:27AM

Parole board member on trial for sexual harassment

By The Associated Press
<p>State parole board member Gene Walker is on trial for allegedly sexually harassing an assistant then having her transferred because he didn't like her physique.</p><p>A similar lawsuit against Walker when he was a state senator was settled out of court. This lawsuit, which seeks at least $1 million, will be decided by a Fulton County jury.</p><p>Walker, 68, says he did nothing to offend either woman.</p><p>"These allegations are fabricated," Walker's attorney, Bruce Edenfield, told jurors during opening arguments Monday in State Court.</p><p>The accuser, Patricia Alexander, 51, went to work as Walker's secretary in 1999, after Gov. Roy Barnes appointed Walker to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.</p><p>Walker claims the complaint is part of a vendetta by Bobby Whitworth and Walker Ray, former adversaries on the parole board.</p><p>Walker urged Ray to resign as parole board chairman due to widespread publicity about a criminal probe into allegations that Ray and Whitworth accepted a payoff in exchange for backing proposed state legislation in 2000, Edenfield said.</p><p>Ray and Whitworth resigned in June 2002. Last year, Whitworth was sentenced to six months behind bars on a public corruption charge. He remains free on appeal. Ray cooperated with the investigation and wasn't charged.</p><p>Ray and Whitworth both are expected to testify for Alexander this week.</p><p>Alexander filed her lawsuit in March 2002, but she first filed a complaint with parole board officials in 2000. She claims her lawsuit has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with a hostile work environment.</p><p>Her voice quivered Monday as she testified how Walker labeled female employees by their body parts and discussed his fantasies to have sex with her and many others around them.</p><p>Alexander said she didn't initially complain because she feared retaliation by her boss.</p><p>Walker was elected to the state Senate in 1984 and served until 1992. In 1995, Gov. Zell Miller named him commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice.</p><p>Four years later, he joined the parole board where he helps decide when murderers, sex offenders, and other felons are released from prison.</p><p>Ray claims that Walker said he had to move Alexander out of his office because she was "disabled, too skinny," her attorney told jurors.</p><p>Testimony was scheduled to continue Tuesday before State Court Judge Patsy Porter.</p><p>The earlier lawsuit, filed when Walker was a powerful state senator, was settled by the state. That case alleged that he and two legislative colleagues sexually harassed a secretary in the state Senate.</p><p>The state paid a $190,000 settlement. The money was paid through a budget category labeled "other operating funds" of the state Senate in 1993.</p><p>___</p><p>HASH(0x2865504)</p>
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