FORMER FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT MATTHEW WENDT FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST ACCUSER AND FORMER LOVER SHAE NEWMAN - WILL IT IMPACT HER LAWSUIT AGAINST FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO PREVENT RELEASE OF RECORDS?
The latest sordid sex scandal to hit Fayetteville Public Schools ("FPS") has ratcheted up a notch with a lawsuit filed Tuesday morning.
Fired former superintendent Matthew Wendt filed a lawsuit against Shae Newman, his former receptionist and adulterous lover seeking over $850,000 in damages.
Readers will recall that Newman filed a lawsuit against FPS to try and prevent the release of public records. She filed the lawsuit as "Jane Doe" trying to hide her identity even though she and her shyster attorney, Suzanne Clark, had given enough information so that the press and public sought out Newman for comments.
We broke the news of her identity in this post.
In case you missed our previous posts about this scandal, here are links:
The related cases, Shae Newman's "Jane Doe" vs. Fayetteville Public Schools, 72CV-18-1805 and Racop vs. Colbert, 72CV-18-1964 have been assigned to a Special Judge - Judge Tom Cooper from Little River County (Ashdown).
That case is scheduled for a hearing next Wednesday, August 15th, and if needed, a final hearing on Friday, August 17th.
Judge Cooper signed an order today allowing the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to intervene in Newton's "Jane Doe" lawsuit.
Judge Cooper did not find that other parties should not be permitted to intervene as Newton and her attorney had requested.
We predict that Judge Cooper will rule against a TRO and order that the records requested be released, with certain redactions.
Those redactions are meaningless as we already know the names of all the parties involved, especially Newman's.
We also predict that Wendt's lawsuit against Newman will also be transferred to Judge Cooper under the "judicial economy" doctrine.
And now that Wendt has filed this lawsuit, Newton's privacy interest is diminished even further that it was before.
In Wendt's case we learn how their relationship developed.
Apparently, the shyster attorney Wendt hired as FPS in-house council, Chris Lawson, had Wendt's back during the complaint process.
We also learn that Newton and her attorney Clark edited text messages between the lovers to favor their position.
Wendt shared some of his cherished ones from his side ho.
Wendt suggests that Newton was la heck of a lot more willing that she has stated in complaints.
We also learn that Wendt gave Newton up to $600 per month for financial assistance even though she and her husband, Joey, both have well-paying jobs at the school district.
Wendt also bought Newman a set of tires for her ride, bottles of wine and a custom Yeti mug.
You can view Wendt's full complaint with exhibits by clicking here.
We wonder what Shae told her cuckolded hubby Joey about the tires and the influx of cash from her monthly stipend from Wendt for screwing around?
The kicker was a $4,000 cash payment that was recorded on FPS security video.
Was it a blackmail payment? Was it money for her to retain an attorney so she could get a divorce?
Wendt came to FPS with a lot of baggage. FPS should have held out for someone not as shady, and now they are reaping what they sowed.
FPS has a shitload of problems. The AFOIA related lawsuits and possible criminal charges for district employees failing to follow the open records law.
And there is a huge potential financial one in how they handled the Wendt/Newman matter.
The adulterous affair between Wendt and Newman is a classic example of quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Even when a relationship between a supervisor and subordinate begins as consensual, it often ends poorly - as we are witnessing at FPS. It then becomes a “he said-she said” on whether the relationship was truly consensual.
The law defaults to the position that it can never truly be consensual when you have a party that has power over another person’s job and livelihood. The employer is strictly liable - meaning FPS will have to pay for Dr. Wendt’s affair.
Good practice when an employer receives a complaint that a supervisor has been “harassing” a subordinate is to suspend the alleged harasser with pay pending the investigation.
This protects the employer by removing the harasser from a situation where he could harass others or retaliate against the harassee.
Most employers have strong policies against these types of relationships, so the harasser is usually disciplined up to and including termination. The FPS policy we have seen is not very strong.
It is hard to discipline the complaining party because the employer then faces a retaliation claim that she was disciplined for exercising her right to complain.
Another way to address the situation is to remove the complaining party from under the supervisor’s supervision. Obviously, that could not have been done at FPS because the superintendent is the head supervisor. And if the alleged harassee does not want to change jobs, you face another retaliation issue.
Here are some links that deal with this issue:
Max Brantley with the Arkansas Times posted about this ordeal on their Arkansas Blog. You can read that post by clicking here.