In addition to Donovan, the Paulding government and Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia were named in the federal lawsuit. Records show state and Paulding taxpayers will foot the majority of the settlement.
The state of Georgia must pay $220,000 of the $300,000 settlement, according to the agreement. Paulding County’s liability insurance policy must chip in $75,000, with the county paying a $25,000 deductible. Paulding will pay the $5,000 balance in the settlement, which the county’s board of commissioners approved unanimously Tuesday night.
Donovan previously denied any wrongdoing. His attorney did not respond Thursday to a request for comment on the settlement.
“If it’s sexual harassment, it’s unlawful,” Donovan said in an affidavit, obtained by The AJC and Channel 2. “But I am very, very reluctant to characterize it as sexual harassment because, again, I have never suggested we have sex, I have never offered to have sex with her, I have never said I wanted to have sex with her, I have never tried to have sex with her. I have never touched her anywhere that was inappropriate.”
An outside attorney brought in to investigate the allegations determined the 74-year-old prosecutor violated Paulding’s sexual harassment policy. That independent investigation cost the county nearly $18,000, records show.
Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan's state-appointed lawyer told Diamant they both intend to vigorously defend the allegations.
Jenn Coalson, an employment attorney not involved with the case, said Donovan won’t be responsible for paying any of the settlement. The quick resolution of the case and allegations against the DA sends the message that those in positions of power have to be sensitive to their employees, she said.
“Mr. Donovan has been in this position for a long time, and the world has changed,” Coalson said. “Things that maybe once were acceptable no longer are, and you’ve got to pay attention to that. And employers need to do the right thing, and when they don’t, that’s when you see these big settlements and big verdicts come down.”
Because Donovan is an elected constitutional officer, he cannot be fired. Elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018, he does not face re-election until 2022. Donovan’s salary was $126,000 in 2019, state records show.
The taxpaying constituents who elected Donovan are the ones paying for his alleged actions and won’t benefit in any way, said William Perry, president of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs.
“The only thing taxpayers can do is call for his resignation, and the fact that he hasn’t resigned yet is unbelievable to me,” Perry said Thursday. “Any other county employee, any other government employee would be fired for this. He should fire himself and resign.”