A lawyer representing former Salt Lake County Attorney Ted Cannon has asked the county to defend Cannon in a federal lawsuit filed by a former secretary who alleges Cannon sexually harassed her.
Attorney John F. Clark also wants the county to indemnify Cannon against any judgments that may be awarded to Debra T. Sauers, who named Cannon and the County Commission as defendants in a suit filed last July in U.S. District Court for Utah.In a letter to the commission, Clark says the claims against Cannon "arose out of an act or omission occurring during the performance of his duties, within the scope of his employment" while Cannon was the elected county attorney.
In accordance with Utah law, the attorney wants the county to defend Cannon, as it would any elected county official, and indemnify him against the awarding of damages.
Commissioners have referred the request to the county attorney's office for an opinion.
The suit also alleges Sauers was discriminated against by current county attorney David Yocum, who the suit says fired her because she was a whistleblower.
The suit asks that Sauers be reinstated as a secretary in any county government department, that she be awarded back pay and that any negative documents be expunged from her county employment record.
Sauers appealed her dismissal to the county Career Services Council, an independent three-member tribunal which hears employee grievances and has the power to reinstate fired workers. However, the council ruled that her firing was justified by poor job performance.
Sauers and another secretary in the county attorney's office, Shauna Clark, were named as victims in forcible sexual abuse indictments handed up against Cannon by a grand jury in 1986.
Cannon later entered a no contest plea to a reduced charge of simple assault, and served 25 days in jail for that and a guilty plea for attempted misuse of public money and convictions for criminal defamation and official misconduct, all misdemeanors.
Shauna Clark filed a $1.2 million sexual harassment suit in federal court and reached a $68,000 settlement with the county earlier this year.