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Dismissal sought in politically charged sex case
State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen’s husband is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims he sexually harassed and sexually assaulted his wife’s former campaign manager.
The attorney for Basil Badley filed a motion for summary judgment in Island County Superior Court April 22; the motion asks the judge to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. The hearing on the motion is set for May 18.
Coupeville resident Courtney Jones, Haugen’s campaign manager in 2008, filed her lawsuit against Badley in 2009. The lawsuit describes two occasions in which Badley made sexual advances on Jones while she was Haugen’s campaign manager. The lawsuit claims Badley is liable for sexual harassment, negligent infliction of emotional distress, outrage and sexual assault and battery.
The motion for summary judgment states that Badley “accepts that as a married man, he should not have become intoxicated and kissed plaintiff on December 2, 2008, and regrets this unbecoming behavior. But he did not intend to cause plaintiff harm, and he discontinued all overtures toward the plaintiff when he understood they were unwelcome. But this single, isolated lapse simply cannot form the basis for legal liability.”
The motion includes a copy of the email that Badley sent to Jones on the day after the event.
“I apologize for my unwarranted and unacceptable behavior last night. Please accept my apology. I am not a dirty old man when I am sober. I want to be your friend and not your lover. I guarantee that it will not occur again. Ever! And you do not have to run out the door if I pour myself a drink. Please call me when you can. We need to raise some $ and find you a good job,” Badley wrote.
In response, Jones wrote that his apology was accepted and she didn’t have any hard feelings. But a year later, Jones filed the lawsuit asking for unspecified damages for impaired earning capacity, emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment, and health care expenses.
In her lawsuit, Jones described two events she claimed occurred at the home Haugen and Badley share on Camano Island. Following a Nov. 23, 2008, campaign appreciation dinner, Badley allegedly tried to kiss her, but she turned so that the kiss landed on her cheek.
On Dec. 2, 2008, Badley invited Jones to the house to pick up campaign-related items and have dinner. The lawsuit claims that Badley had several drinks and again tried to kiss Jones, who resisted and “rebuffed his actions.” Badley continued to try to kiss Jones, then fondled her “breasts and buttocks and put his hands down her shirt and between her legs,” the lawsuit alleges.
Badley offered a different version of events in his motion. The motion indicated that he kissed her more than once, but doesn’t mention any alleged fondling. In her deposition, Jones said: “I don’t think he understood that I did not want him to kiss me.” As soon as he realized that Jones wasn’t interested, Badley stopped and told her to leave, the motion indicates.
The motion argues that Badley wasn’t Jones’ employer, so she can’t make a claim of employment discrimination. It argues that she can’t make a hostile work environment claim because a single incident “at someone’s home rather than at work, cannot create a ‘pervasive’ hostile work environment.”
In addition, the motion states that Jones cannot claim assault or battery because there’s no evidence that Badley intended to cause harm or offensive contact. Likewise, Badley argues that the facts don’t support a claim of outrage or negligent infliction of emotional distress.
“Adults seek to kiss or otherwise make romantic overtures toward other adults every day,” the motion states. “Some of these overtures are rejected and some are not. Even in our overly-litigious society, our courts have not recognized this as an actionable tort.”
Last December, Jones’ attorney, Rebecca Roe of the Seattle law firm Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, filed a jury demand in the lawsuit, which means a jury instead of a judge will decide the case. The trial is set for Aug. 30.
Badley was an influential lobbyist in Olympia for the insurance industry before he retired five years ago. He married Sen. Haugen in 1990. He’s a graduate of Gonzaga Law School, a former assistant attorney general and a founding partner of the Seattle law firm Carney Badley Spellman.
Haugen, a lifelong Camano Island resident, has been a state senator since 1993. She currently chairs the powerful Senate Transportation Committee.