Johnny Anderson's alleged victim says she was forced out of job, state denies claim
BATON ROUGE - In what's shaping up to be a heated election season, Johnny Anderson's accuser spoke up for the first time to reporters since the incident where she claims she was harassed and assaulted by Anderson, one of Governor John Bel Edwards' top staffers.
Anderson has maintained his innocence since day one, but the Governor's office said it removed Anderson from his position within six hours of finding out about the allegations.
Juanita Washington said after she came forward she was forced out of her job.
"I resigned because Johnny Anderson threatened me," Washington said. "Before my last day came and after that evil man resigned I told the governor all of this. I wanted to keep my job, and my family needed our insurance. The governor said 'no.'"
Washington said her daughter had just been diagnosed with Asthma and was left jobless after she claims she was sexually harassed and assaulted. The state settled her case for $85,000.
State Senator Sharon Hewitt spoke this morning outside the courthouse in Baton Rouge standing next to the alleged victim.
"I've watched her courageously battle over the past year to make sure her story was told," Hewitt said. "No woman should have to go through what she did and no woman should battle with a sitting governor to have their truth told."
Inside the courthouse, Truth in Politics sponsored a lawsuit against the governor's office. There are claims requests for public records were ignored. The plaintiff wanted text messages, emails, and other things that could be related to Anderson's tenure.
Tuesday, those supporting Edwards fired back against the lawsuit and Washington.
"I'm clearly not here to talk about any one particular lawsuit but I do have a comment in general," said Jill Craft, an attorney. "The cause of eradicating discrimination is not some soapbox someone can jump on and jump off when it's convenient for them. It takes commitment."
Craft represented Washington in her case against Anderson which led to the $85,000 settlement. Ironically, Craft stood with the Governor's supporters and not her former client Tuesday. She would not answer questions about any particular cases.
Tina Vanichchagorn, the Governor's Deputy Executive Counsel, refuted Washington's claims and said she was not forced out.
"Ms. Washington was given an opportunity to withdraw her resignation and to continue her employment with our office," Vanichchagorn said. "She declined to do that."
As both sides came out swinging, Washington maintains she's been targeted even though she's the victim. We asked why she's speaking up now just days before the election.
"My story needs to be told," Washington said. I'm just here to tell the truth."