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State senator’s husband goes to trial in sex case
State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen sat beside her husband, Basil Badley, in an Island County courtroom this week as attorneys battled over a politically charged lawsuit involving allegations of groping, mental illness and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.
Coupeville resident Courtney Jones, Haugen’s former campaign manager, is suing Badley for sexual assault and battery. Jones claims Badley sexually assaulted her during a post-election dinner at the Democratic state senator’s Camano Island home on Dec. 2, 2008.
Jones took the stand Thursday and became emotional as she answered questions about the events that evening. She described how she tried to politely resist and deflect Badley’s sexual advances. She said at one point she reminded him of Sen. Haugen.
“He said it has nothing to do with Mary Margaret, it has everything to do with you and me,” she said.
The trial got off to a dramatic start Wednesday as sparring attorneys laid out their evidence and arguments in often ugly detail during opening statements.
On one side, the plaintiff’s attorney described Badley as a politically important man who used his position over Jones, physical force and promises of career help in an unsuccessful attempt to compel her to have sex with him. He described Jones as an emotionally fragile woman who had been victimized as a child and was devastated by Badley’s actions.
“You can’t touch someone sexually if they don’t want you to. It’s a universal principle,” attorney Thomas Breen said, adding that Badley violated the principle and needs to take responsibility.
On the other side, Badley’s attorney painted Jones as a woman with diagnosed mental health issues who had flattered an old man to further her own career and then greatly exaggerated an incident she regretted. The attorney characterized Badley as an old man who drank too much, but did nothing more than kiss a younger woman he had reason to believe welcomed his attention.
“This is a case of two people who had way too much to drink, exercised poor judgment and regretted it the next day,” said Tyna Ek, the attorney for Badley.
Breen asked the jury to award Jones $100,000 in damages. He said the amount may sound like a lot, but will seem reasonable by the end of the trial.
As Breen told it, Badley had invited Jones over to the house to pick up her things and have dinner on the night of Dec. 2, 2008, as her employment was drawing to a close. They were both aware that Haugen would be in Olympia, though Breen contended Jones had mainly worked with Badley on the campaign, so it made sense for her to meet with Badley. Breen emphasized that Jones was 28 and Badley was 72 years old at the time.
Breen described the alleged assault in detail. He claimed Badley repeatedly kissed her, licked her face and groped her breast and crotch as she physically and verbally resisted.
“She tells him, ‘I do not want to do this.’ He tells her it will be good for her,” Breen said. “She’s looking for a polite way out of this. He’s someone she knows and respects.”
Breen said Badley finally stopped after Jones pushed him off her and he saw the distress in her face.
“He sees that no matter how hard he tries, no matter how hard he pushes the issue, she is not going to give in,” Breen said.
Badley then told her to leave, which she did.
Badley sent an email to Jones the next day, apologizing and explaining that he’s “not a dirty old man.” Jones sent an email accepting the apology, saying she wanted to be friends and didn’t have any hard feelings.
Nevertheless, Breen said the incident weighed on Jones, who was especially vulnerable because of a childhood assault involving a dentist and an ongoing battle with depression. He said she was doing really well until Badley allegedly assaulted her.
“Just as she’s climbing out, seeing the sun, that’s when Basil Badley pushed her right back down,” he said, adding that she went into a “tailspin.”
Breen said he would call Jones’ former counselor to testify as well as Jon Conte, a professor at the University of Washington and expert on the impact of sexual violence.
On the other side, Badley’s attorney, Tyna Ek, described a much different series of events. She pointed out that Jones brought a bottle of wine and a laptop computer with her resume´ to the dinner with Badley and admitted she hoped he would help her find a new job.
“She was hoping to convince Basil Badley to help her, maybe use a little influence,” she said.
Ek claimed that Jones drank the entire bottle of wine by herself and that Badley was also intoxicated from drinking.
“You will find that drinking is a recurring theme, sadly, for both of these parties,” she said.
Ek described a scene in which Jones was laughing at Badley’s jokes and flattering him as they sat close together on the couch. According to Ek, when Jones was asked during her deposition how she put up resistance to Badley’s advances, she said “sometimes I didn’t kiss him back.” Also during her deposition, Jones admitted she didn’t think Badley realized that she didn’t want him to kiss her.
Ek emphasized that Jones didn’t leave immediately, but managed to show Badley her resume´ and continually texted a friend during the alleged assault.
“How threatened did she really feel?” Ek asked rhetorically.
In addition, Ek disclosed that Jones had been diagnosed with a mental health issue and had stopped taking her medication, against medical advice, about a year before the incident.
The attorney claimed Jones had a history of conflict with other people since “going off her meds” and often mistakenly thought people were being “mean” to her. For example, she said Jones worked for state Sen. Jean Berkey of Everett after the Haugen campaign, but Jones felt the senator was unkind. Ek said Berkey will testify and the jury will see “she’s one of the nicest ladies you will ever meet.”
In the end, Ek argued, the jury will find that Badley’s actions did not remotely rise to the level of sexual assault and battery. She said it’s “a extremely steep and serious charge” and that there’s no evidence that Badley meant to cause Jones any harm, which she said is required to prove the accusation.
“Let’s be honest here. My client should have known better,” Ek said. “But frankly, so should have Courtney Jones.”