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Disney, Employee Found Not Guilty of Sexual Harassment

May 16, 1997|MARLA MATZER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Thursday ruled in favor of Walt Disney Co. and co-defendant David Humdy in a sexual harassment suit brought by a Disney employee. The employee said she plans to appeal the ruling.

Beverly Abbott-Stavely, a 13-year employee of Disney's treasury department, accused Humdy, her former supervisor, with creating a hostile work environment through lewd comments and actions. She charged Disney with not giving her information or assistance.

Some members of the seven-woman, five-man jury indicated to Abbott-Stavely's attorney, Nikki Tolt, after the trial that they considered Disney guilty but not Humdy. Because Disney had obtained a ruling requiring the company and Humdy to be judged as a unit, the jury could not find just one guilty. Disney attorneys took jurors to a pricey downtown restaurant after the verdict was read around noon.

Disney faces three other suits against the studio and Humdy, and also several cases against various arms of the Burbank-based company.

A June 2 trial date is set in Los Angeles Superior Court for a sexual harassment suit brought by former Disney animation department worker Margie Franco against Walt Disney Pictures & Television and four of its employees.

Franco claims, as do women in the other cases, that she was met with hostility when she complained to her supervisors about harassing behavior.

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