Attorney Lawson Denies Alleged Sexual Harassment

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Attorney Charles Lawson has denied he sexually harassed a 20-year-old employee of Big River Grille, and he said he has witnesses to prove it.

The employee, Ashley Burgess, is suing the 42-year-old attorney with Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel in Circuit Court.

The suit, which asks $500,000 in damages, claims that attorney Lawson told the employee how "beautiful" she was, then he slammed her against a brick wall, grabbed her by the hair and proceeded to fondle her and rub against her private area.

He was charged with sexual battery, and he entered a judicial diversion to the lesser charge of assault.

Attorney Lawson, in an answer, said he did go from a restaurant next door with a beer to Big River Grille and the employee told him he could not enter. He said there was no sexual assault, however.

He said co-workers of the employee as well as a woman who was with him that night declared they did not see it happen.

The answer said the plaintiff told a co-worker that if she went along with the allegations that she would give her a share of the proceeds.

It says the plaintiff in a My.Space posting listed her income as "$250,000 and higher." It was noted the suit asks $250,000 compensatory and $250,000 exemplary damages.

The My.Space page was headed "Its Ashley B----" and listed her mood as "naughty," the answer notes. She says in the posting, "I make an awful enemy. I DARE you to mess with me. I won't beat you up, but my best friend will."

The answer says the allegations were aimed at generating media attention and pressuring the attorney into settling the case.

Tracy Vandergriff and Jonathan Vickery said attorney Lawson did not appear intoxicated that night.

Heather McRoy said she was with attorney Lawson at the encounter with Ms. Burgess and said he did not slam her into a wall or fondle her.

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