Originally created 12/06/01

Kilroy was here, but now she's fired



WASHINGTON -- USA Today fired a sports writer and two sports editors for scrawling words in what they thought was dust on a $100,000 sculpture.

The substance turned out to be pigment, and their actions were caught on security tape. The three women have retained Washington lawyer Steve Hoffman.

"We can't rule out litigation at this point," Hoffman said before meeting with the women.

USA Today spokesman Steven Anderson confirmed Wednesday that the three employees -sportswriter Karen Allen, projects editor Denise Tom and database editor Cheryl Phillips - had been fired after their Nov. 27 visit to "Aperture." The sculpture sits near the new executive offices of Gannett executives in the Virginia suburbs.

After noticing fingerprints and scrawls in what appeared to be dust covering the sphere, they touched the surface. Phillips and Allen traced the words, "Kilroy was here" and Tom's name. The "dust" was actually pigment that had not yet been treated with sealant.

USA Today President and Publisher Tom Curley considered filing criminal charges and called the firings irreversible, Anderson said.

"People came to a conclusion and made recommendations to me, and after hearing them, the decision was made," Curley said.