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Tenn. lottery official leaves after harassment investigation

Jan 6, 2006, 11:18 am

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Tennessee Lottery

Former state treasurer Steve Adams has stepped down as chief administrative officer of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. following an investigation into allegations of workplace harassment.

Lottery officials investigated the allegations against Adams, but gave no other details while citing attorney-client privilege and an interest in protecting the identities of the employees involved.

The corporation is "committed to providing a supportive work environment where every employee can reach his or her full potential," lottery officials said in a statement released late Thursday night.

"When contrary circumstances come to our attention, our intention is to correct that situation as promptly and fairly as we possibly can."

Adams, 54, a native of Marshall County, first entered state government in 1973 with the Department of Conservation. He moved to the Treasury Department in 1975, and was first elected state treasurer in 1987. He left that position in 2003 to work for the lottery.

Adams was not available for comment Thursday.

The move comes after a year of close scrutiny of harassment allegations at all levels of state government.

"We have got a problem with sexual harassment in state government," Gov. Phil Bredesen said during an interview with The Associated Press in May 2005 after forcing his own top lobbyist, Mack Cooper, to step down following a harassment complaint.

Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner Quenton White resigned in July saying that media inquiries into sexual harassment allegations against him had compromised his ability to do his job.

Bredesen said that the particular harassment claim made against White was found to be without merit and was not a reason for his dismissal.

An Associated Press review of more than 600 harassment investigation files going back to late 2002 — just before Gov. Phil Bredesen took office — found that there was no consistent procedure for conducting investigations, maintaining records or imposing uniform punishments.

Among other findings in AP's review:

  • Sexual harassment was by far the most common type of complaint, with 235 of 602 files related to sexual harassment. The next most common types were general workplace harassment, complaints of a hostile workplace and then race discrimination.
  • It was impossible to tell from the records what the resolution was in more than 160 cases.
  • Investigations were on pace for a big increase in 2005. With 166 complaints in the first 6.5 months of the year, the state was on pace for more than 300 cases, up from 190 in 2004.

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