Stephenson: Ex-Grady CEO’s sexual innuendo slandered her
You thought the years-long soap opera swirling around the top brass at Grady Memorial Hospital couldn’t get any weirder?
State Rep. Pamela Stephenson, in newly filed court papers, claims fired Grady CEO Otis Story slandered her last year. She alleges Story told others that she was sexually available and that she orchestrated his January 2008 dismissal because he spurned her “personal advances.”
The DeKalb County legislator bases her claim, filed in court June 15, on a deposition by lobbyist Dan Copeland, who says Story talked about Stephenson’s personal interest in him when the two men were playing golf.
“I remember him saying … I could F[***] the B[****] if I wanted to,’ something like that,” Copeland testified. “I was like man, Pam, isn’t she married.”
As a consequence of such derogatory comments, Stephenson said, her law practice lost a corporate client whom she had billed the year before for more than $150,000. She said the client had heard that she had Story fired because he rejected her advances.
Story filed suit last year claiming Stephenson, chairman of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, arranged for him to be fired so she could get his $600,000-a-year job. She held the job for about eight months until a new CEO was named.
Story is seeking three years’ pay and punitive damages.
Stephenson contends the Grady board, not she, fired Story. She filed a counterclaim for slander last year, but did not bring up the alleged sexual comments in court until last week.
Her allegations came in response to Story’s motion asking the judge to decide the case in his favor before trial. The case is on a July 17 trial calendar.
Copeland’s complete deposition, taken last month, is sealed from public view. In excerpts that were filed with legal briefs, Copeland said Story never said Stephenson wanted to sleep with him. Copeland said Story thought “maybe … Ms. Stephenson had a crush on him” and he could have slept with her if he wanted to.
Citing Copeland’s testimony in court papers, Stephenson’s lawyer, Robert Highsmith, wrote that Story portrayed her “as an ‘available’ woman of easy virtue.” It cited Georgia court decisions that ruled that accusing a woman of having illegal intercourse or being a “public whore” would be actionable for damages.
Highsmith denied that his client is a bitch.
“Despite any of plaintiff’s personal quibbles with Ms. Stephenson, her leadership of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, or her abilities as a lawyer or a public official, she is neither a ‘bitch’ nor a common ‘public whore,’” Highsmith’s brief said.
Copeland testified that Story made many disparaging comments about Stephenson during the golf outing, including “that bitch tried to destroy me” and “I will destroy that bitch.”
Story was particularly bitter that he was fired during a dinner meeting and didn’t get a chance to finish his meal, Copeland said.
Copeland said Story told him he “didn’t get to eat the food, that B [sic] wouldn’t let me eat my own food. That lowdown B wouldn’t let me eat the food.”