Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled today that the Tennessee Lottery must turn over to Stephen D. Adams, former Tennessee Lottery chief administrative officer, the investigative file that led to his dismissal. NashvillePost.com broke the news of Adams' departure on Jan. 5.
The ruling opens the way for the possible release of the records to NashvillePost.com in response to its lawsuit against the lottery, which Adams has now joined. The file is to be furnished to Adams with names of all complainants and witnesses marked out.
McCoy reviewed the file behind closed doors before reaching her decision.
“Mr. Adams was not afforded any due process,” McCoy said from the bench. “It has really offended the Court that these complaints do not appear to articulate when the complaint was received, what action was taken at the time that it was received and what notice was given to Mr. Adams at the time the complaint was received.”
The order McCoy issued, together with the contents of a letter she compelled the Lottery to make public, contain clues about the controversies that led to Adams' firing. McCoy mentioned in court that complaints of harassment had been made against Adams in January 2004, September 2005 and October 2005. The Lottery's termination letter to Adams, which the judge ordered the Lottery to provide in full to NashvillePost.com after it released a heavily redacted version last week, refers to “unwanted sexual advances” made toward “employees of vendors.”
In the letter, Lottery General Counsel Wanda Young Wilson tells Adams that “it does not matter whether you intended the conduct to be harassing or complimentary.” She states that he was warned about his conduct before he and all staff took part in a training program about harassment issues last October, but that “yet another allegation” arose later. The ensuing investigation concluded that Adams' actions had “created significant potential exposure” for the Lottery.
McCoy's review of the investigative file painted a rather different picture. The judge said she saw no indication that Adams was questioned about any allegations until December 29, 2005. As to documentation of accusations, “I can discern something in the nature of a complaint from one of the parties,” she said, “but other information in the interview almost disqualifies it from being a complaint.”
McCoy, who ruled against media requests involving other state officials' harassment cases last year, emphasized that the Lottery “is entitled as a basic policy to assert work product and attorney-client privilege as reasons not to release investigative reports that are properly conducted.” But she went on: “In this instance, based on what I've read, I do not find that they were properly conducted. It would be extremely difficult for an individual to adequately respond to the nature of whatever it was that he was charged with.”
Adams will be granted an opportunity to review the file before it is released to NashvillePost.com. If he objects to the release of any portion, the judge will decide what parts to release to NashvillePost.com.
"I am very pleased with the court’s order to allow me access to the allegations made against me," Adams said in a statement to reporters with an attachment of the court transcript. "The court’s transcript reflects what my concerns have been from the very beginning, that is, I don’t believe my termination was justified.
"The court ... questions the fairness of the investigation, the merits of the allegations and clearly notes that the (Tennessee Education Lottery) corporation did not provide even minimal due process protections for persons such as myself who have been accused of improper conduct.
"It is heartening that finally someone other than a Lottery employee or their attorneys was able to review the report and comment on the contents of the investigative report and the procedures followed to effectuate my dismissal and the damage to me and my family’s reputation that has occurred."
- FAHLEKAMP, BROOKE FEYE; KEPLEY, JOHN; KEPLEY, BROOKE FAYE; KEPLEY, BROOKE F
- GLENN, JEREMY; GRAYSON, THERESE S; GRAYSON, ALAN L
- CRABTREE DAVID P GREEN HILLS FAMILY INVESTMENTS LLC; DAVID P CRABTREE GREEN HILLS FAMILY INVESTMENTS LLC; HTC VI PARTNERS
- HAMMOND, GRANT; RADER, ERIC STACEY; RADER, KRISTIN