Lenexa A woman who filed suit in 1991 alleging sexual harassment by Johnson County Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison, now the Democratic nominee for Kansas attorney general, said Wednesday she received no money when her lawsuit was dismissed by mutual agreement.
Kelly Summerlin, 49, also told Kansas City, Mo., television station KMBC she had been unaware until recently that Republican Atty. Gen. Phill Kline had made her case against Morrison a campaign issue.
Summerlin worked in Morrison's office as victim-witness coordinator until she was fired in February 1991. In lawsuits filed in March 1991 and in May 1992, she said Morrison had made a pass at her in late 1990 while his staff was at a bar celebrating the conviction of a serial killer.
Kline, who called a news conference last week to publicize the Summerlin case, has since launched a campaign commercial with actors reading from court documents in the case.
When Summerlin and Morrison agreed in early 1993 to dismiss her case, they signed a two-paragraph agreement saying each side would cover its own legal costs.
Kline and his staff have described that agreement as a "settlement," a term commonly used in legal circles to denote some kind of payment.
But in an interview aired Wednesday night on KMBC, Summerlin denied that any money had changed hands. Asked if she had received any payment or anything of value, Summerlin said, "No."
Summerlin appeared in shadow in the televised interview so that her face could not be seen.
"I did not allow the Kline campaign to use my case," she said. "The first I heard about it was when my husband saw it on TV. I knew nothing about it."
Morrison has said repeatedly that he fired Summerlin for poor job performance.
In January 1992, Morrison signed a sworn statement acknowledging having told Summerlin that she looked attractive, but added, "She took the comment to mean much more than I had intended." He said he apologized the following day "for the comment and any misinterpretation she may have made."
Morrison's campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying: "We are sorry Phill Kline has dragged this campaign to a new low by repeating a 15-year-old false claim. I will not allow this campaign to be dragged any lower."
Summerlin said it was her idea to come forward with her story, saying Morrison was misrepresenting the case to the public, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported in a story for today's editions.
"I'm not here for Mr. Kline," she said. "I'm here because what I said then was the truth. It's still the truth. I didn't bring this up. I'm going to respond to it."
Kline's campaign orchestrated the interviews with selected media outlets at a Johnson County media company.
Summerlin conducted the interviews on the conditions that her married name, hometown or workplace not be made public. The Kline campaign said such information should be withheld to protect the woman's family.