By Philip Curtis
Also posted on DailyKos
Bernadette Restivo Noe, former chairman of the Lucas County Board of Elections and wife of Tom Noe, central figure in the growing Ohio Coingate scandal, 10 years ago sued Bowling Green State University for $9 million for sexual harassment. Today she is employed as an attorney by a law firm that advises businesses on protecting themselves from such cases.
While her husband Tom served on the Board of Trustees of Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Bernadette was employed as an assistant director of development for the university. She resigned from her position in February 1995 after filing a sexual harassment claim. The March 13, 1996, Cleveland Plain Dealer reported:
A March 1995 internal BGSU investigation concluded that no sexual harassment had occurred.
In September 1995 Governor George Voinovich appointed Tom Noe to the Ohio Board of Regents.
More than a year had elapsed since Bernadette left her position raising funds for the university. On March 15, 1996, she filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Court of Claims that eventually sought $9 million in compensatory and punitive damages from BGSU. That same week, she also filed a claim with the Court of Common Pleas of Wood County seeking statutory penalties and attorney’s fees. In January 1997 she filed a claim with the United States District Court seeking additional compensatory and punitive damages.
During the course of her ongoing federal, state and county legal actions seeking damages from the university, Bernadette applied for two fundraising related positions at BGSU. When she was not selected to be interviewed for a position raising funds for the university’s Falcon Club, she filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission alleging retaliation.
In September 1997 the BGSU Board of Trustees approved the award of a $95,000 settlement. In exchange Bernadette agreed to drop all current and potential future legal actions against BGSU. She also agreed to never apply for another job at BGSU. All exhibits and depositions related to the case were destroyed. The destroyed exhibits include documents related to Tom Noe and to alleged ethics violations by a university trustee:
“Memo to Connally from Olscamp re: allegations of conflict of interest and ethics violations against a trustee of BGSU made by Oscamp <sic> (Feb. 22, 1995)”
“Letter to Laskey [BGSU Trustee & Noe Coin Fund Investor] from T Noe re: his non-participation in B Noe’s claims ( June 10, 1995)”
“Letter to Laskey from T. Noe re: the ethics charges (Sept. 29, 1995)”
Following receipt of the settlement from BGSU, Bernadette completed a law degree at the University of Toledo. The Supreme Court of Ohio identifies Wise and Dorner, Ltd., as her current employer. Patricia Wise, whose areas of expertise include sexual harassment and employee retaliation cases, conducts seminars in which she advises businesses on protecting themselves from such cases. Bernadette’s employer writes:
[Editor’s Note: All dates below followed by an asterisk (*) are from a PDF copy of a settlement agreement that can be downloaded via FTP from the Ohio Court of Claims. Those dates followed by a pound sign (#) can be found on this page of the Ohio Court of Claims Web site.]
Governor George Voinovich appoints Noe to the BGSU Board of Trustees.
Tom and Elisabeth J. Noe separate. Tom vacates the marital residence.
Tom Noe files divorce complaint.
Bernadette begins her employment at BGSU.
Judgment entry dissolving Tom and Elisabeth’s marriage.
Bernadette “informed a trustee of BGSU that she believed that Dr. Mason [Vice President for University Relations] had sexually harassed her during the course of her employment at BGSU.”
Bernadette resigns her position as Assistant Director of Development at BGSU.
BGSU Director of Affirmative Action Marshall Rose “submitted a report (the `Investigation Report’) to Dr. Olscamp [BGSU President] concluding that Dr. Mason did not engage in sexual harassment or gender harassment, but recommended that his department participate in appropriate programming focusing on enhancing their awareness and knowledge regarding sexism and sexual harassment.”
“Along with the Investigation Report, Mr. Rose prepared a document (the `Document’) which he forwarded under separate cover to Dr. Olscamp. Dr. Olscamp subsequently discarded the Document which he did not believe was a public record under Ohio law and suggested that Mr. Rose do the same. As a result, copies and computer records of the Document no longer exist.”
Tom Noe resigns from the BGSU Board of Trustees.
Governor Voinovich appoints Tom Noe to the Ohio Board of Regents for a term ending 09/20/1999.
(Court of Common Pleas of Wood County) Bernadette files a claim seeking statutory penalties and attorney’s fees for the destruction of a document relating to her alleged sexual harassment.
(Court of Claims) Bernadette files a complaint against BGSU seeking punitive and compensatory damages alleging “(1) a claim for declaratory judgement that the actions of the individual Defendants were not entitled to civil immunity…; (2) a claim for conspiracy; (3) a claim for fraud and deception; and (4) a claim for corrupt activity.”
(Court of Claims) Bernadette increases the amount of compensatory damages she seeks from BGSU.
(Court of Claims) BGSU denies all material allegations.
Bernadette applies for a position at BGSU as Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Development at the university’s Falcon Club.
(United States District Court) Bernadette files a complaint claiming 14th Amendment violations and seeking additional compensatory and punitive damages.
(Court of Common Pleas of Wood County) “The Court entered an Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment holding that the Document was destroyed in violation of Ohio Law. Subsequently, Ms. Noe moved for award of statutory penalties and attorney’s fees in an amount in excess of $65,000.”
(United States District Court) Defendants file motions to dismiss Bernadette’s claims. The Motion to Dismiss is linked to the Court of Claims case.
(Ohio Civil Rights Commission) Bernadette receives word that another applicant was hired for the BGSU Falcon Club position.
(Ohio Civil Rights Commission) Bernadette files a complaint “alleging that BGSU denied her an interview for the [Falcon Club] position in retaliation for Ms. Noe’s prior filing of the Federal Action and her participation in an internal sexual harassment grievance.”
Bernadette applies for a position as Director of Development at BGSU’s public television station.
(Court of Claims) Settlement pending approval of BGSU Board of Trustees.
(Court of Claims) Order approving settlement of $95,000.
(Court of Claims) Order disposing of all exhibits and depositions.
(Court of Claims) All exhibits destroyed.
Governor Taft appoints Tom Noe to a full term at the Ohio Board of Regents.
Bernadette admitted to the Ohio Bar.
Recent Related Diaries
ePluribus Media Credits
Researchers/Contributors: mkt, sawcielackey, kfred, NYBri, Zan, Cho, SusanG, Michael Cote, Sue in KY, DEFuning, Jill Lehnert, avahome, madhat, luaptifer, Timroff, Biblio, wanderindiana, cici414, standingup, ricardo4, jeninRI, Susie Dow, Kagro X, Biblio, Michael Cote
Note: Please let us know of any contributor not listed.