Allegations of sexual harassment and other abuses of power within the Utah State Bar are groundless, made by an attorney with an "obvious" interest in the matter, according to an investigation report.
But attorney and long-time bar critic Brian M. Barnard, who asked the state Supreme Court to investigate the complaints in April, said the report misses the point and is little more than a petty attack on his character.Barnard asked the court to investigate complaints from three former bar employees that bar officials were using equipment and personnel for personal use and that the work environment was characterized by sexual harassment and vulgarity.
But former bar president Reed L. Martineau, in a report released Friday, said the allegations all were either groundless or minor. Martineau investigated the claims along with former bar president Norman Johnson and current president Kent Kasting.
The report contained harsh criticisms of Barnard, who has more than 10 pending lawsuits against the bar. In half of them, Barnard is the plaintiff.
"It is well to consider the source of the complaints and the obvious self-interest of the complainants and of Mr. Barnard," the report said. Barnard represents Wendy Krogh, one of the employees who made allegations. Krogh was fired from the bar and subsequently filed suit, according to the report. Of the two other employees alleging wrongdoing, one had been fired and the other quit and was resentful of another employee, the report said.
Barnard attended interviews between the three former employees and the investigators and "put them through a direct examination with leading questions in connection with our interviews," Martineau said.
The report also said Barnard avoided meeting with investigators once he realized the ex-employees were being given an opportunity to discuss their complaints.
Barnard, however, denied he asked leading questions and said he provided reasons for having to postpone meetings.
"I'm surprised that Reed Martineau would be so concerned about who was making the charges rather than the substance of the charges," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, the claims haven't been refuted."
Barnard said he has filed so many suits against the bar because he wants to make it a more responsible organization.
The report said there is little doubt bar employees made sexual references during conversations and in staff meetings.
"And while at times this sexually oriented give-and-take may have crossed over the strict bounds of propriety, there is no supporting evidence that it was out of the ordinary for an office of this size and composition," the report, written after interviews with employees, said.
"It does not appear to have been offensive to bar staff generally."
The report said evidence was found that some employees used bar personnel for outside activities. For example, one attorney had his secretary type articles he had written for a church newsletter.
But such activity is within the bar's policy of encouraging public service, Martineau said.