A sexual harassment lawsuit filed against car dealer Tom Ganley at the height of his failed 2010 bid for Congress has been settled, according to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records.
An attorney for Ganley did not return call seeking comment, but Patrick F. Roche, the lawyer for the Cleveland woman who leveled the allegations against Ganley, confirmed that a settlement had been reached and the case was dismissed last month. Roche said he couldn’t discuss the details because of a confidentiality agreement.
Court records indicate that the court costs in case would be charged to Ganley, who has always vehemently denied wrongdoing.
Ganley, a Republican, was challenging then-U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, when the lawsuit was filed on Sept. 30, 2010, by a woman who accused the married Ganley of groping her and making inappropriate advances in the offices of one of his dealerships.
The allegations immediately consumed the race and although Sutton largely declined to comment on the allegations, Ganley blamed her and other Democrats for what he called “the vile lies” and “efforts to derail my campaign and ruin my reputation.”
Sutton’s campaign denied having anything to do with the allegations against Ganley. The victim said she was a conservative and had met Ganley at a Tea Party rally in July 2009, when he was running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Rob Portman.
According to the lawsuit and other court documents, the woman went to Ganley’s offices three times to discuss volunteering on his campaign and the possibility of a job at one of his dealerships. They also talked about the interest rate on a van she purchased from him and he had repairs made to the van’s power steering.
It was during the third meeting at the dealership that the woman said Ganley invited her to a Strongsville condominium he owned and told her he wanted to “dominate” her and “parade her around on a leash while his other ‘play’ friends watched,” the lawsuit said.
He also slid a $100 bill across his desk and told her to buy lingerie and high heels for a visit to the condo, the lawsuit said. The woman also accused Ganley of groping her later in the meeting and the lawsuit said he only stopped after she told him she was menstruating.
The woman also filed a police report that led to charges of kidnapping, abduction, soliciting, menacing by stalking and three counts of gross sexual imposition. Prosecutors later dropped those charges after they conducted additional investigation and the alleged victim told them she didn’t want the case to go to trial.
Ganley’s attorneys portrayed the allegations as an effort to extort money from their wealthy client and pointed out that even after Ganley allegedly groped her, the woman offered in an email to work on his campaign.
They also pointed to the affidavit of a Florida businessman who wrote that the woman’s former lawyer, Edward Heben Jr., had told him during a November 2010 meeting that there was no merit to the lawsuit and that it had been filed to get money out of Ganley and “torpedo the election.”
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