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Allen Should Quit Says Judge

A veteran judge called on Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen to step down Friday, the first public official to ask Allen to resign after he admitted this week to an extramarital affair with an employee.

“Nobody else has the backbone to say it, but he should resign,” Judge Robert Ruehlman said. “His conduct was outrageous. A person in a position of power cannot have sexual relations with an employee.”

Rebecca Collins, who sued prosecutor Mike Allen Thursday for sexual harassment, is expected to return to work Monday.

She did not work this past week, having previously taken sick leave, said her direct supervisor, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Carl Stich.

“We’ll try to work it out so nothing is a problem for her,” he said.

Collins, 33, is an assistant prosecutor in the civil division of the prosecutor’s office. She works on the 7th floor of the prosecutor’s complex of offices on East Ninth Street, downtown. Allen works on the 8th floor.

Collins earns $43,800 a year.

Hamilton County commissioners will seek a second opinion on whether the county has to pay for Allen’s personal attorney, commissioner Todd Portune said Friday.

“If we have to pay, we are in essence spending taxpayer dollars for conduct outside the scope of the office,” he said.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Mark Schweikert issued a temporary order Friday forbidding the prosecutor’s office and Allen from destroying certain records.

Those records could relate to the extramarital relationship between Allen and Collins.

The Cincinnati Enquirer asked for a number of records under the Ohio Public Records law. Enquirer attorney John B. Pinney told the judge that the order was necessary.

“There is sufficient reason to believe the prosecutor’s office removed or allowed to be removed a document that should be considered a public record,” Pinney said.

Stich argued that the order was unnecessary.

Ruehlman, a Hamilton County judge for more than a decade, is a fellow Republican and former assistant county prosecutor.

Allen, a 48-year-old married father of two, admitted Wednesday to a 31/2-year relationship that he called consensual with an assistant prosecutor.

Thursday, the assistant prosecutor – Rebecca Collins, 33 – sued Allen for sexual harassment in U.S. District Court, alleging that he used his position to coerce her into an affair. Allen said the allegations are “outrageous and false.”

The sexual-harassment policy of the prosecutor’s office forbids sexual relationships – even consensual – between boss and employee.

Allen’s attorney, Michael Hawkins, said Friday that Allen stands by his comment Wednesday that the relationship with Collins, which he called “the worst mistake of my life,” should not cost him his job.

“He does not believe having a consensual affair is basis for him or anyone else to resign their job,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said it’s unfair for anyone to demand Allen’s resignation based on the allegations in the lawsuit.

“This community should not be judging Mike in a negative way until the facts are out there,” he said. “What if what she’s saying is a lie?”

The Allen controversy has dominated talk radio for the past two days, but elected officials have been slow to take a position.

Republican leaders said it was either too soon for such a judgment or said it should be Allen’s decision whether to resign. Some refused to say anything at all.

Democrats, meanwhile, began to contemplate whether they should offer voters an alternative to Allen in the November election. Allen is running unopposed for re-election, and most deadlines to challenge him have long passed. However, the deadline for write-in candidates is Sept.13.

If Allen were to resign by Sept. 23, the Republican Party could replace him on the ballot.

Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said there is interest in Democrats supporting a write-in candidate. “But if it happens, it will require major effort by the candidate and the party.”

It’s typically difficult for a write-in to win election against a candidate on the ballot because a majority of voters would have to literally pick up a pencil and write in the person’s name.

Republican Party Chairman Michael Barrett refused to comment on Allen’s predicament Friday, saying he has been focused on next week’s Republican National Convention in New York City.

Allen is skipping the convention and will step down as chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Southwest Ohio. Allen is former chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party.

Republican Commissioner Phil Heimlich also declined comment, saying he doesn’t want to imperil the county’s legal position. Collins sued the county along with Allen, saying the county knew “unwelcomed sexual harassment was occurring due to the open and notorious nature of the harassment.”

Some balanced concern about the allegations with a hesitance to rush to judgment.

“I can’t pass judgment on either of them until all the facts are out,” Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, said. “We have complete compassion for her if indeed she was sexually abused. But I know Mike Allen so well that this is hard to comprehend.”

Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann, who is in charge of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Hamilton County and a former assistant to Allen , said it’s premature to call for Allen’s resignation as prosecutor.

But Ruehlman raised concerns about how effectively the prosecutor’s office can operate amid the scandal.

Ruehlman said that under Allen, morale at the prosecutor’s office is the lowest it has ever been.

“I know because I work with them,” Ruehlman said. “Morale is horrible there. Then you have a situation where the boss is having sex with an employee, allegedly getting special favors.

“I know they don’t want to say anything because they’re afraid of him, afraid they’ll be sent to Siberia, the child support division. There’s a lot of fear over there.”

Karl Kadon, Allen’s top assistant, defended his boss.

“I challenge anyone to criticize his record of law enforcement and for making this community a safer place. I don’t think anybody could have done a better job.”

Another supporter was Republican state Auditor Betty Montgomery.

“Mike Allen is a friend and an ally, and Betty Montgomery has reached out to him,” said Mark Weaver, a spokesman for Montgomery, an expected candidate for governor in 2006. “Her thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.”

Cincinnati Post: As a Hamilton County commissioner seeks to make Prosecutor Mike Allen pay his own legal fees for a lawsuit filed by a woman the married Allen admits he had an affair with, a judge called Friday for Allen to step down. “What (Allen) did was wrong. He violated his own policy, he’s going to cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and he’s created a morale problem,” Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman, one of the longest-serving judges on the bench, said Friday.

“He’s the top law enforcement official in the county. He should resign. I’m the only one with the balls to say it.”

Allen, 48, admitted Wednesday he had an extramarital affair with a female subordinate, a woman Allen’s lawyer said Friday was Rebecca Collins. Collins, 33, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Allen and the Board of County Commissioners, saying she felt pressured into the four-year sexual relationship with Allen because he was her boss and she feared his political power.

Allen’s admission of adultery alone should be enough to make him resign, Ruehlman said.

“When I was (an assistant) prosecutor I worked for real men, Si Leis and Art Ney,” Ruehlman said of previous prosecutors. “I really looked up to them. This kind of stuff would never have gone on with them.”

Upset by the frustration some of Allen’s assistant prosecutors have exhibited since Allen’s admission and Collins’s lawsuit, Ruehlman spoke out.

“The morale at (Allen’s) office is at the lowest and I know that from working with those prosecutors,” Ruehlman said.

“They’ve got so many talented (prosecutors) over there and they tell me stuff about him off-the-record because he is so vindictive. He’d send them to Siberia, to (work in the office’s) child support office.”

There is a legal vehicle to remove Ohio prosecutors from office for cause.

Ohio Revised Code 309.05 notes “one or more taxpayers” can file a complaint against a prosecutor, citing “distinct charges” of neglect of duty or gross misconduct in office. After the complaint and a supporting affidavit are filed in the Common Pleas Court, the code calls for a hearing to be set to review the allegations.

“If it appears that the prosecuting attorney has willfully and wantonly neglected to perform the prosecuting attorney’s duties, or has been guilty of gross misconduct in office, the court shall remove the prosecuting attorney from office and declare the office vacant,” the code says.

Hamilton County Republican Party chair Mike Barrett declined comment Friday.

Michael Hawkins, Allen’s private attorney, warned not to overreact to accusations from someone he believes has shown a lack of honesty.

“Everybody ought to put themselves in Mike Allen’s shoes and remember that she’s simply making allegations,” Hawkins said. “The court and judicial system will ultimately ferret out the truth.”

Ruehlman, though, said he also was bothered about the cost of defending Allen.

Commissioners met in a closed session Thursday and were told by assistant prosecutor Carl Stich that Ohio law required the county to pay for a lawyer to defend Allen and a separate lawyer to defend the commissioners of charges in Collins’s suit.

Commissioners were sued because Collins alleged her affair with Allen was so well known that the commissioners either knew about it or should have known, and did nothing to prevent it or protect her.

“Are you kidding me?” Tim Burke, co-chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said when told Allen’s attorney would be paid for by the public after Allen admitted to the affair.

Democratic Commissioner Todd Portune, however, said Friday that commissioners “are in the process of getting a second opinion on if we are obliged to pay for a defense for Mr. Allen.” Thursday, the commissioners announced they want an independent investigation into Collins’s allegations.

Collins’s suit alleges that Allen, in his position as her boss and an elected officeholder, pressured her into sex with him from December 1999 through January 2003.

Allen frequently summoned her to his prosecutor’s office and asked her for sex, kissing her without permission in a stairwell of their building and often visiting her Blue Ash home where he refused to leave until they had sex, the suit adds.

“This whole lawsuit is about what Mike did, not in his public capacity and not within the authority of his public office,” Burke said.

“I don’t believe that the taxpayers should foot the bill for a ‘frolic and detour,'” Portune said, invoking a legal term.

Neither does Rep. Tom Brinkman, Jr., R-Cincinnati.

“Not one penny of taxpayer money should be spent on his defense for his personal failings,” Brinkman said.

But because Collins’s suit alleges she gave in to Allen’s sexual demands due to his position as her boss in a public office, the law rightly requires the government to fund his defense, countered Carl Stich, Allen’s chief assistant prosecutor.

“It may be a moral failure to have an affair but it’s not illegal and it’s not actionable,” Stich said.

Portune also criticized Allen for mentioning during his admission that his sexual relationship was consensual and between himself and “an attorney” in his office.

By his admission, Allen began having sex with Collins in December 1999, when she was an intern in his office. She wasn’t hired as “an attorney” until after she graduated from the University of Cincinnati Law School and passed the bar exam in 2001. Allen is a UC trustee.

Collins’s suit alleges that she and Allen last had sex in January, in the middle of her marriage that lasted from Nov. 1, 2003, until it was dissolved July 29, two weeks before she filed an official sexual harassment complaint against Allen.

Even if the sex was consensual, Allen appears to have violated his own office policy, especially if Collins’s allegations are true.

“(C)oerced sexual intercourse” is one course of action described as sexual harassment or prohibited conduct by the current Policy and Procedures Manual used by the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office.

“Conduct described under this policy will not be tolerated even if the parties engage in the conduct consensually,” it notes.

Stich noted, however, that it “doesn’t necessarily say that that type of conduct necessarily occurred.”

Allen’s private attorney contends Collins’s lawsuit was incomplete.

After Collins’s mother was ill last spring, Hawkins said, Allen consoled her and she thanked him.

“She sent him an e-mail that said, ‘Thanks for your message and here are your pictures,'” Hawkins said, saying Allen also loaned her money and was sent a note signed YGR, meant to stand for Your Girlfriend Rebecca.

“You’ll notice she didn’t put any of that (information) in her complaint,” Hawkins added.

Instead, Hawkins charged, Collins benefited greatly from her relationship with Allen, using it to her advantage at every opportunity.

“She bragged about this relationship,” Hawkins said, adding he has witnesses to support that contention. “She was out front, used it, told people about it, saying ‘Hey, I’m having an affair at work with Mike Allen.’

“You don’t use that type of language if you are somebody who is being coerced. The fact that anybody and everybody knew about this (relationship) kind of removes the aura of coercion.”

Allen, who vowed to “continue to do the best that I can in my job as Hamilton County prosecutor” during his Wednesday admission of the affair, was not in the office Thursday or Friday.



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