Former Salt Lake County Attorney Ted L. Cannon has filed a $5.6 million libel lawsuit against his former secretary for an article that appeared April 1990 in Redbook magazine titled "My Boss Ordered Me to Sleep With Him."
Cannon's suit against Shauna Clark is the latest chapter in a saga that began in 1986 when Clark's allegations of sexual harassment by Cannon sparked a grand jury investigation that led to Cannon's removal from office.The suit, filed Tuesday, said the Redbook article, which appeared under Shauna Clark's name, bears "even less relation to the truth than her prior libels."
When asked about the suit, Clark said, "I haven't been served yet, so I don't even know if it's real."
In his suit, Cannon said he had always enjoyed a reputation for "honesty, uprightness of character, truthfulness, morality, marital fidelity" until Clark began making accusations against him. The original accusations made in 1986 - which the suit called malicious and untruthful - were augmented in the Redbook article, the suit said.
The 1986 investigation of Cannon led to charges against him of aggravated sexual assault and other, unrelated crimes.
Cannon spent 25 days in jail for the commission of five misdemeanors, including an assault on Clark.
Clark won a $25,000 settlement from the county as a result of the Cannon incident. She continues to work for the Salt Lake County attorney's office. Cannon's suit also named Red-book writer Sara Nelson, Red-book magazine and the Hearst Corp. as defendants, claiming they failed to investigate what Clark told them to determine its truthfulness.
The 25-page suit takes a dozen excerpts from the article and contrasts them with statements Clark made under oath during the investigation of Cannon.
A part of the article detailed an incident on a golf green where, according to the article, "Cannon was ordering me into bed with him." The suit said Clark never once in several hundred pages of sworn testimony testified that she was ordered to bed by Cannon.
"Since, as she well knew, she was not only never ordered, she was never invited," the suit said.
Cannon seeks $5 million in punitive damages, $654,4298 in special damages and the $750 the magazine paid Clark for her story.
Clark told the Deseret News last March that she decided to sell her story to Redbook because "so many people were calling me and asking me about sexual harassment. I thought it would be a good idea to make people more aware that the problem exists." She repeatedly turned Redbook down before finally agreeing to do the article, she said.
Cannon told the Associated Press on Tuesday he was "willing to let go" what he called Clark's "initial defamations" which led to his ouster and the indictments.
"But after I'd had my consequences, which I felt were severe and embarrassing, to come out of nowhere with these new lies, well, it's like the old saying: `Thus far and no further,' " Cannon said. "I had to do something."