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Conroy Harassment Suit Puts Focus on Office Behavior and Tolerance

August 28, 1994

I was told by several attorneys that I should refrain from commenting about the harassment suit that was filed against me by my former employee, Robyn Boyd ("Ex-Aide Sues Conroy for Harassment," Aug. 23). I was told it best to let the truth come out in the courtroom. Unfortunately, Robyn has chosen to hold press conferences throwing out accusations about my character and accusing me of inappropriate behavior.

In my 50 years in the work force, prior to this incident, I have never been accused of sexual harassment. Nor has anyone to my knowledge ever suggested that I have acted in a way that would make them feel uncomfortable in the workplace. Therefore, Robyn's public statements have been particularly hurtful and surprising. Because so many have requested that I do so, let me clearly emphasize that Robyn's claims that I deliberately harassed her--or that someone on my staff did--are not true.

Throughout my career I have always tried to foster a friendly and open environment with my employees and colleagues. I remember employees, birthdays and anniversaries and names of their children. I have always made a point of interfacing with people on a personal level and have always felt that the most productive office is one in which there is trust and friendly camaraderie. On occasion, it is true that I have placed my arm around an employee's shoulder, male or female-- but never with any sexual intention. I also have on occasion paid compliments to an employee who is looking particularly sharp or well-dressed--but never in a suggestive or demeaning manner. I do not live my life in a plastic bubble, afraid to interact or touch people, but I do respect my employees, male and female.

I believe that any of my employees can attest to my genuine feelings in this regard. The tragedy of this lawsuit, and similar claims brought against public figures, is that such cases tend to make a mockery out of real instances of sexual harassment.

Although neither I nor my staff did anything shameful or malicious, Robyn's complaint was taken very seriously by my office. Contrary to her public statements, she was not terminated by the Assembly, but decided to quit her job to seek damages in court. Unfortunately, this is an all too common tactic in our media-driven society.

I am confident that the truth will emerge through the normal court procedures. This incident has absolutely no effect on the discharge of my official duties in Sacramento or in my home district.

ASSEMBLYMAN MICKEY CONROY

R-Orange

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A question for Assemblyman Mickey Conroy: Do you plan to sponsor legislation to cane dirty old men who sexually harass young, female employers?

DON ELMORE

Huntington Beach

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Regarding the sexual harassment case by Robyn Boyd against Assemblyman Mickey Conroy, it seems to me that Mrs. Boyd is out of order.

Some women object to the attention by such a man as Conroy, notice it quickly and resign from the job. Other women approve of his attention and stay on the job. If he loses too many employees because of his amorous attention, he either changes, or in private industry is fired.

People can object to bosses for many other reasons or for the nature of the work. No one is guaranteed a job that he must like. Everyone fits into a particular employment role, and probably an emotional role within that employment.

It is impossible to create an atmosphere satisfactory to all comers.

I'm sure Mrs. Boyd is not so talented that this is the only job she deserves, wants and needs. Frequently a change in jobs can prove beneficial. The human condition being what it is, Mrs. Boyd and the sexual harassment clique are trying to reorder that condition. How will women find husbands or men find wives in the workplace if Mrs. Boyd's standards are universal? The office will be a rather sterile place.

Sexual harassment is not universal, nor is love for employers. Women who enter the traditional male workplaces have to understand and appreciate what they are doing. I'm sure there are circumstances where men, too, will avoid work places because of sexual harassment. Every job cannot be evaluated on the primary basis of whether it can provide an income through litigation. And every job can have some difficulty. You can tolerate it or quit.

JEROME GREENBLATT

Laguna Hills

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Assemblyman Mickey Conroy's proposed bill would require parents of juvenile graffiti vandals to paddle their children in court.

Now Conroy is being sued by his former legislative aide for sexual harassment. If found guilty, Conroy's wife should paddle him in court.

JACK CORKERY

San Clemente

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I had the pleasure of working as Mickey Conroy's secretary for almost a year after he was elected in 1991. I was shocked to read that a former employee has accused him of sexual harassment.

I am a young, attractive woman in my early 20s. During my employment with Mickey, he would occasionally put his arm around me and give me a hug. Sometimes he would grab a male staffer by the back of the neck or playfully give them a punch in the stomach. He could also tell some pretty lame jokes. In no way could I or anyone around me construe his behavior to be anything but platonic. It was the same treatment you might get from your grandfather or uncle, friendly but nothing sexual.

I have never met the woman who claims this treatment was harassment. I can only assume that she is hypersensitive to normal social interaction, or she is trying for an easy retirement with a expensive lawsuit that is difficult to disprove.

The next time I see Mickey I hope he'll still give me a hug when he asks how I've been. He's a genuinely kind man who doesn't deserve to be attacked for being friendly.

COLLEEN ROBLEDO

Canyon Lake

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