Originally created 02/11/99

Magistrate dismisses litigation



ATLANTA -- Douglas County District Attorney David McDade said Wednesday he felt vindicated by a federal magistrate's decision to dismiss a sexual harassment suit against him.

U.S. Magistrate Joel Feldman ruled Tuesday that a suit filed by six former employees of the office -- including a former assistant district attorney -- could not go forward because the women had not gone through proper channels with their initial complaints.

"I've always said that we would do our talking in court," Mr. McDade said. "All it takes is a dollar and an ink pen to make accusations, but we knew they couldn't withstand scrutiny in court."

David Ates, attorney for the women, said Tuesday the ruling was disappointing.

Mr. Ates said he will ask U.S. District Judge Richard Story to turn down the recommendation and let his clients' claims go to trial.

Magistrate Feldman did recommend that a single sex discrimination claim filed against Mr. McDade by former county investigator Brenda Health be allowed to proceed to trial.

Although a legal victory for Mr. McDade, 43, the Douglas district attorney since 1991, Magistrate Feldman's order painted an unflattering picture of the prosecutor's treatment of women who worked for him.

The order, signed last week, said Mr. McDade often tossed coins down the front of blouses of his female employees or threw the coins or shot rubber bands at their buttocks as they walked by. He hired strippers for office birthday parties and referred to women as "bimbos," "idiots" and "featherheads," the order said. He also often made sexually crude jokes, according to allegations in the suit.

Mr. McDade denied the allegations, saying that the judge must find for the plaintiff in a summary judgment.

And Magistrate Feldman also noted that a number of the female plaintiffs willingly engaged in sexual banter and flirtation with Mr. McDade.

He said some of the women "may have even invited reciprocative comments by their own actions." He specifically mentioned making a photo album with sexually suggestive captions, dressing in provocative costumes at Halloween and making sexual jokes.

According to depositions, three of the women dressed for work as prostitutes to play a joke on Mr. McDade in October 1992.