Shauna Clark, the secretary who charged former Salt Lake County Attorney Ted Cannon with sexual harassment, said the incident affected a lot of innocent people, including her mother, who nearly had a nervous breakdown, and her son, who had problems at school following news stories concerning the scandal.
"It has been the toughest two years of my life," Clark said Monday, and admitted because many people have asked her to talk about the incident "it seems like it will never end."Clark's comments, the first she's made about the controversy, came during a seminar, sponsored by the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, designed to acquaint business people with the liberalized U.S. Supreme Court definitions of sexual harassment and ways to avoid large damage awards if liability is determined.
Leaving out the details of the sexual harassment incidents, Clark centered on the trauma she suffered during the case, due to the publicity, the court appearances and continuing in her job as Cannon's employee. Cannon eventually pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of assault.
Clark said many people in her office were aware of the sexual harassment aimed at her and someone (she still doesn't know who) eventually told a reporter about the situation and it received wide media attention. Clark said she filed a lawsuit because she had 12 years invested in her job and "I couldn't walk away because the job was important to me."
"But after I had my life threatened, I decided to go ahead with the lawsuit. I never intended to hurt anyone in the office, but I had to do something," she said.
She said it was difficult to know to whom to report the sexual harassment incidents because her immediate supervisors were afraid of losing their jobs if they reported it to Cannon. "I didn't know where to go or what to do," she said. Clark said an independent office should be established where problems of this type can be aired.
Clark didn't blame the news media for the tremendous publicity generated about her case, saying "they were only doing their job." But she said all of her friends deserted her and when she was called before a grand jury all of her fellow employees blamed her for what happened.
During her ordeal, Clark said she received dozens of telephone calls from people who had suffered sexual harassment and wondered what to do. Clark said she was surprised that 50 percent of the telephone calls came from men.
Even though news reports said the Salt Lake County Commission approved a $68,000 payment to settle her lawsuit against Cannon, Clark said the situation hasn't been finalized. "No matter how much money is involved, it isn't worth it," Clark said, referring to the trauma she has suffered.
Lynn J. Lund, inspector general for the Utah Department of Corrections, who conducted the seminar, said surveys indicate the majority of people filing sexual harassment complaints aren't interested in financial compensation. They only want a judge to issue an order of cease and desist to prevent further sexual harassment incidents, he said.
Lund said Clark's appearance was not announced because Clark wants to avoid publicity. There was some discussion among Chamber staff members as to whether Clark would speak knowing reporters were in the audience.
However, when Clark arrived, she gave reporters permission to record her comments.
Clark said she has never made a public statement before, but decided to do so after she was contacted by Lund, hoping her comments would be used by business people to avoid similar situations.