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After woman’s “horrific” sexual assault, what did Steve Marshall do?

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Steve Marshall, who currently serves as the state’s attorney general, in the early 2000s used the power of his office to protect a man who, according to court records, sexually assaulted a co-worker in an act that a U.S. district judge described as “horrific.”

“He had me pinned with my back against the wall … I kept saying stop, stop, get off me, stop. Stop it. He was trying to put his mouth on me. I could still feel his hot breath on my neck. I felt like I absolutely was going to die. I couldn’t move him because he was so heavy. He kept pushing his hands — he had one hand on my breast underneath the top part of my bra. I could feel his fingers on my nipples. The other hand, again, I could feel he was at the top of my pubic area. And I knew I had to stop him.”

The above quotes are from sworn testimony given by a female worker in the Marshall County District Attorney’s Office. When then District Attorney Steve Marshall found out about the incident, he didn’t just do nothing — he actively worked to kill the woman’s case against an assistant district attorney in his office.

Marshall successfully had the case dismissed on technical grounds. The man, Assistant District Attorney Bryon Waldrop, remained by Marshall’s side while the woman, Donna Dunlap, was isolated, according to Dunlap’s court testimony.

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Court records, obtained by the Alabama Political Reporter, show that a judge found it an undisputed fact that in June 2001, Waldrop, who would have been around 56 years old, sexually assaulted caseworker Dunlap, who was in her 20s and worked in the Restitution and Recovery Unit of the DA’s office.

According to the records, after the attack, Dunlap told Marshall County investigator Steve Guthrie and then-Marshall County District Attorney Ronald P. Thompson that Waldrop physically attacked her. According to Dunlap, “Thompson told her that he would handle the situation and for her to stay away from Waldrop.”

Thompson retired as Marshall County DA on July 31, 2001, a few days after the incident. Marshall gained the position the following day on Aug. 1, when then-Gov. Don Siegelman appointed him to replace Thompson.

According to sworn testimony, Marshall made Dunlap the same promise that he would address Dunlap’s assault — but like Thompson, court documents show he never followed through on that promise. Marshall denies he made any promise to Dunlap.

As part of a 2004 EEOC lawsuit before Federal District Judge Robert B. Propst, the court found that Marshall never disciplined Waldrop for the incident but did begin assigning Dunlap to other cases with different ADAs.

The District Attorney’s Office, under Marshall’s leadership, argued that they eliminated any direct contact between Dunlap and Waldrop, and they didn’t work together again beginning a month after the June 2001 incident.

Court records show that “Waldrop has never denied the June 2001 incident and even begged for plaintiff’s forgiveness.”

But even given the violent nature of the attack, Marshall allowed Waldrop to keep his job while Dunlap was isolated in a basement office as her responsibilities diminished over time, according to Dunlap’s argument included as part of Judge Propst’s summary judgment.

In her testimony, Dunlap recalled the assault, “I could feel he was at the top of my pubic area. I knew I had to stop him. So I just kept getting louder and louder. That’s the only way I knew to get him off of me. So I kept getting louder … finally just screamed and shoved past him, unlocked his door and ran down the hallway. I hit the stairwell and just completely lost it. I stood on the top of the stairwell for the longest just squalling.”

Waldrop’s harassment began nearly two years before it culminated in a full-on assault. According to sworn testimony, the verbal harassment began in 1999.

According to Judge Propst’s order in 1999, “Waldrop had begun to make comments about her [Dunlap’s] breasts and her lingerie, which led her to avoid him and his phone calls. Waldrop reportedly asked plaintiff about her sex life, what type of sanitary products she used, and how far she liked them to ‘go inside her.’ Countless times, plaintiff [Dunlap] asserts, Waldrop told plaintiff that he wanted to have sex with her. Waldrop asked plaintiff if she liked anal and oral sex and told plaintiff that he could make her feel real good with oral sex.”

Dunlap’s attorneys wrote, “Waldrop allegedly asked her [Dunlap] if she liked to have sex doggie style. Waldrop expressed to plaintiff on different occasions that he had an erection. He asked her if she liked to be hurt since some women liked to be smacked and hit. He also asked Dunlap if she ever worried about her job when she was off work.”

Dunlap made Inspector Guthrie aware of her growing concerns about Waldrop’s aggressive behavior, and the two developed a code word so she could alert Guthrie when Waldrop was menacing her. Whenever she feared Waldrop, she would raise Guthrie on the county’s two-way radio by saying, “Selma,” as a cry for help.

Marshall was made aware of all these issues with Waldrop but still protected him. Dunlap filed an EEOC complaint on Feb. 27, 2003, and a subsequent federal lawsuit on Dec. 23, 2003.

Dunlap claimed that because Marshall never addressed her attack or her concerns of continuing harassment and retaliation in the workplace, that the federal court should intervene under EEOC Title VII.

Part of Marshall’s defense was that after the June 2001 incident, there was no evidence that such physical conduct or sexual-based language occurred again.

However, Dunlap said after the incident that Waldrop “stands over the top of [her]” and “[g]lares at her” in the courtroom.” But Marshall’s defense was that Waldrop has spoken to her on a couple of occasions but only for professional reasons and in a professional manner.

Dunlap said in court that Marshall, “assured her that she would not be around Waldrop, including at office birthday parties attended by Waldrop and other staff members.” However, Marshall claimed that he was, “powerless to make such an assurance.” He further said he could not keep the two separate in court because, “The Circuit Clerk, not the DA, is in charge of the court’s motion docket.”

Dunlap also said she tried to speak with Marshall about ongoing harassment concerns, but that he would not meet with her or take her calls.

“He wouldn’t return my phone calls,” she said. “I have emails that I sent to him that he would not respond to. He doesn’t talk to me and he hasn’t talked to me since the day he came down there in that office with Steve Guthrie and I told him what happened.”

She says on one occasion she called Marshall from another worker’s phone, but once he realized it was her, he claimed he was busy and would get back to her. He never did, according to Dunlap.

Dunlap said that she suffered in a hostile work environment after she reported Waldrop. Before the attack, Dunlap recalled that she worked on the ground floor with the two investigators and was part of the special investigative unit.

She said that after her complaint, “Mr. Marshall came in, he completely emptied that office down there. I have no idea why anybody left or where they went.” Alone, she said, “I had a camera that did not record. I had a door that didn’t shut correctly. I was all by myself, had no way to get any help for anything other than Guthrie, radioing him and giving him the password or the code word if Byron showed up.”

Her security guard was also removed.

“I collect restitution from criminals,” she said. “Until I complained about the sexual harassment, I had an armed security guard for protection. I have now been moved to an isolated area with no security. The other revenue unit collectors for worthless checks and child support have armed security.”

It was argued that Marshall wasn’t aware of these complaints.

Judge Propst agreed with Marshall’s claim that because Dunlap was not directly an employee in his office and that because her complaint was outside the statute of limitations, that the court should grant summary judgment in the District Attorney’s Office’s favor.

Marshall successfully convinced Propst that since the attack occurred when the office didn’t have a formal policy on sexual harassment, there was no prescriptive remedy for him to follow. Marshall, who would later become Alabama’s top law enforcement official, informed the court that in 2002, he implemented a sexual harassment policy but it was after Dunlap’s attack and therefore didn’t apply. Marshall also argued that since Waldrop was not Dunlap’s supervisor that there were no grounds for Dunlap to feel her job was threatened.

In 2004, Marshall’s argument won the day and Dunlap’s case was dismissed.

While Judge Propst acknowledged that Dunlap was sexually assaulted by Waldrop and that neither Marshall nor his predecessor had taken action against her attacker, he still found that Dunlap’s case was insufficient to meet the EEOC standard.

Marshall’s rigorous technical arguments prevailed, leaving Dunlap with nowhere else to turn. Even the local paper of record, The Gadsden Times, glossed over the case.

Waldrop retired years later, taking a position as Guntersville’s city judge. Waldrop, now in his 70s, still practices law in Marshall County.

Dunlap, now in her 40s, works in the Victim Restitution Unit in the Marshall County DA’s office.

Marshall is running for state’s attorney general in the 2018 Republican primary.

 

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House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

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The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

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Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

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Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

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Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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House OKs bill to clarify consulting contracts by state legislators

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to try to clarify how legislators accept consulting contracts under Alabama’s 2010 ethics law. Some pundits have suggested that House Bill 387 is actually designed to weaken the existing ethics law.

Sponsor state Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, argues that the legislation is merely a clarification and is intended to prevent legislators from inadvertently crossing the line into illegality.

Wingo said that his bill would require legislators to notify the Alabama Ethics Commission that they have entered into a consulting agreement in an area outside of their normal scope of work.

State Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville, said, “I have never understood why members of this body were allowed to take contracts as consultants or counselors.”

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Wingo said, “Never do I use the word counselor in my bill; it is consulting.”

Beckman asked, “Are we going to be getting into an area where  every time we turn around we create a bureaucratic nightmare where we have to go get an opinion. These opinions whether it is orally or written don’t hold up in a court of law.” Beckman said, “We are serving the people here but we get this admonition that we can still be a consultant if we get an opinion.”

Wingo said, “This does not apply to professions where a member is currently licensed.”

Beckman said, “I would like to see more opinions coming out of the Ethics Commission. Right now we have the Ethics Commission competing with the Attorney General’s office over who has more authority.”

State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said,”This happened to a friend of mine. He just got out of prison. He was a state senator and had a written letter from the Ethics Commission which his lawyer read at trial and the jury convicted him anyway.”

Rogers never named his friend, but reporters think he was talking about former state Sen. Edward Browning ‘E. B.’ McClain who spent over 22 years in the legislature until he was convicted on 47 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, bribery, and money laundry in 2009.

A federal jury found that McClain and the Rev. Samuel Pettagrue were guilty in a scheme where McClain would secure public funds for Pettagrue’s community programs and then receive a kickback once the funds were in hand. McClain was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison. McClain was not prosecuted under the Alabama ethics law as the state has a much weaker ethics statute then. The current ethics law was passed in 2010.

Rogers said, “If they offer me a consulting contract for a field like aerospace engineering that I know nothing about they are trying to pay me off. If you can already be a consultant for something you know about why would you seek a consulting contract for something you don’t know about.

Rogers this is how they can pay you off for your vote.”

State Rep. Artis “A.J.” McCampbell said, “I don’t like making changes to things like this because we get into things called unintended consequences.”

McCampbell was reading from the bill and Wingo said, “You are reading from the original version it has completely changed.” “We worked tirelessly on this bill with the Ethics Commission this is not a fly by night bill.”

“If a member of the legislature enters into a contract to do a consulting contract outside of their normal field of work this bill requires that they consult with the Ethics Commission first,” Wingo said. “It is up to the member to notify the Ethics Commission not to the company or person offering them the money.”

State Representative Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said, “Everybody but legislators are allowed to do contract work up to $30,000.”

Rep. Wingo said, “This is not intended to be a roadblock.”

State Representative Arnold Mooney, R-Indian Springs, said, “The whole purpose of this is not to prevent members from doing work in your field.” “What you are doing is offering to protect me.”

State Representative John Knight, D-Montgomery, asked Wingo what the Alabama Attorney General said about this legislation.

Wingo replied, “I have not contacted the Attorney General.”

Knight responded, “Something from the Ethics Commission does not carry a lot of protection from the Attorney General. We have seen that in the past. I think the Attorney General and the Ethics Commission should be in agreement in the working on this.”

Wingo answered, “Maybe this is a first step.”

Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, asked, “Do we have anybody doing work outside of their regular scope of work?”

Wingo answered, “Yes I think so.”

Wingo said, “If we had had this bill four or five years ago maybe we could have been spared the embarrassment that this body experienced with the former Speaker.”

Wingo was referring to former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard who was convicted of 12 counts of felony ethics violations in June 2016. Ironically, Hubbard is largely responsible for creating the ethics law that he was found guilty of violating 11 times in his relentless pursuit of outside contracts and personal wealth.

Unlike McClain, however, Hubbard has not yet served any of this sentence.

House Bill 387 passed 67-0 with 26 legislators abstaining.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

(Original reporting by the Alabama Media Group’s Lisa Osborn in 2009 was consulted in this report.)

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After woman’s “horrific” sexual assault, what did Steve Marshall do?

by Bill Britt Read Time: 8 min
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