BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A review of Louisiana’s state government policies for handling sexual misconduct allegations will be complete before the legislative session starts in March, the legislative auditor said Monday.
Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a Slidell Republican, requested the performance audit from Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office after a top aide to Gov. John Bel Edwards resigned last month following sexual harassment accusations.
“We believed it was a logical request and good for our state to do the audit,” Purpera said.
The auditor said he’ll follow the list of items sought by the senator, including a review of state agency policies for responding to such accusations and possible ways to strengthen those procedures. He said his office also will compare Louisiana’s sexual harassment policies for handling allegations to those of other states.
“If we can make recommendations to make it better, we will,” Purpera said.
It wasn’t clear how many departments would be swept into the review. Purpera said his office’s audits typically include the executive and judicial branches; he said his office will discuss whether to include legislative agencies in the review of sexual misconduct policies as well.
Hewitt sought the audit after Johnny Anderson left his job as the Democratic governor’s deputy chief of staff for programs and planning, in response to accusations of sexual harassment.
No specific claim has been released publicly, though the governor’s office confirmed the allegations were made and an investigation is ongoing. The Edwards administration said it hired a contract attorney “in anticipation of litigation” involving the accusations against Anderson.
Anderson denies wrongdoing and said he intends to fight the allegations. He said he resigned to avoid becoming a “distraction” for the governor, not because of guilt.
Hewitt questioned how Anderson was hired after he was accused of sexual harassment in 2006 when he worked as assistant chief of staff for then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco and was chairman of the Southern University System Board of Supervisors. At the time, Anderson was accused of sexual harassment by several university employees and temporarily stepped down as Southern board chairman in a dispute with the university system president over the allegations.
Anderson has maintained his innocence about the accusations made 11 years ago, claiming they were politically motivated, and he said he was “exonerated.”
Blanco ordered an investigation at the time, but the lawyer who led the review said the university system didn’t cooperate, making it difficult to determine if the allegations had merit, according to news media reports.
Also last month, the state corrections department fired its medical director, Raman Singh, in response to a sexual harassment complaint filed against him. Singh is suing the agency, claiming the accusations are false.