State pays millions to settle sexual harassment claims

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The State of Arizona paid out more than $2 million to settle sexual harassment cases over the past 10 years, government paperwork said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The State of Arizona paid out more than $2 million to settle sexual harassment cases over the past 10 years, government paperwork said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
the Department of Corrections paid out the most, settling five cases at a cost of roughly $900,000 to the taxpayer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) the Department of Corrections paid out the most, settling five cases at a cost of roughly $900,000 to the taxpayer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Arizona Department of Agriculture settled one case for $400,000 in 2013. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Arizona Department of Agriculture settled one case for $400,000 in 2013. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The State of Arizona paid out more than $2 million to settle sexual harassment cases over the past 10 years, according to records provided by the Department of Administration.

Few details about cases are available but records show 14 government agencies paid a total of $2,052,646 to settle 27 sexual harassment claims between 2007 and 2017.

[MORE: Arizona politics]

Some of the agencies include Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the Department of Education.

[RELATED: All 33,000 Arizona state workers to get harassment training]

However, the Department of Corrections paid out the most, settling five cases at a cost of roughly $900,000 to the taxpayer.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture settled one case for $400,000 in 2013 and the Department of Health Services paid more than $253,000 to settle two cases in 2013 and 2015.

[RELATED: GOP leadership retains outside counsel to investigate sexual harassment claims at AZ Capitol]

A spokesperson for the Department of Administration said the settlements were not an admission of guilt.

One local attorney says the money may not tell the whole story.

"It does sound like a lot of money but when you consider the fact that it's approximately $200,000 a year for those 10 years that's not a lot in terms of the dollar amount paid out," Tom Ryan said. 

[RELATED: Lawmakers working on new Code of Conduct which may ban sexual relations at the Capitol]

He says state laws and regulations may be making it more difficult for victims of sexual harassment to step forward. 

"We have gutted our laws, we have gutted the protections that we have for our state employees and our county employees and our municipal employees,"  he said. 

[RELATED: Federal officials target harassment in National Park Service]

"From these numbers alone you can't guess the size and scope of the problem but I guarantee you this is the tip of the iceberg. These are the worst of the worst cases that have actually been brought and settled," Ryan added. 

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Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

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