Salt Lake County is willing to defend former County Attorney Ted Cannon in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former secretary, but the county won't indemnify Cannon against damages the court may award.

County commissioners Monday approved a recommendation of the county attorney's office that the office defend Cannon in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Utah by Debra T. Sauers.Sauers maintains Cannon sexually harassed her while he was county attorney and she was a secretary in the county attorney's office. She contends she was fired for bringing complaints against Cannon, and her suit also names the County Commission as defendants.

John F. Clark, an attorney representing Cannon, had asked the county to defend Cannon against the suit and indemnify him against any court-awarded damages because Cannon was an elected county official at the time the alleged incidents occurred.

But the county attorney's office told commissioners in a letter Cannon should not be indemnified against damages awarded "for conduct found to be malicious or outside the course and scope of his duties as county attorney."

The county maintains Sauers was fired for poor job performance. Her dismissal was upheld earlier this year by the county Career Services Council, an independent tribunal that hears employee grievances and has the power to reinstate fired workers.

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.