(AP) — The Legislative Ethics Commission has found probable cause to believe former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis may have sexually harassed three legislative staffers.
The panel on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for Dec. 12 to determine whether Arnold should be reprimanded or fined.
Chairman George Trautman said the ethics commission will weigh evidence, including testimony from witnesses, to determine whether Arnold violated the legislative ethics code by engaging in any misconduct.
"What happened here today was saying there is the possibility that a violation of the ethics code was committed," Trautman told reporters at the conclusion of a closed-door meeting in the Capitol Annex. "Not that it was committed. Not that it wasn't. But that there's a possibility that it could have been."
Arnold resigned from the Legislature last month after the allegations were made public by Legislative Research Commission staffers Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper. They alleged that Arnold had touched them inappropriately and made vulgar comments. A third woman also has filed a complaint, which the ethics panel will consider Dec. 12.
Costner and Cooper said Tuesday that they were pleased with the ethics commission's decision to move ahead with the case.
"We're thankful God gave us the courage to come forward," Costner said. "And hopefully justice will be served."
Arnold said in his letter of resignation that he doesn't believe he is guilty of sexual harassment. But he said he has been "destroyed politically" and could no longer be an effective voice for his constituents. A retired chiropractor, he had served in the House since 1995.
A legislative committee also is investigating Arnold to determine whether he should be reprimanded or fined. Had Arnold not resigned, the panel could have recommended that he be expelled from the Legislature.
Costner and Cooper, represented by Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, have filed a lawsuit against the Legislative Research Commission alleging their supervisors didn't protect them from Arnold's sexual harassment even after they reported it.