Secretary of State Tom Schedler vows to fight sexual harassment lawsuit, won’t seek reelection

BATON ROUGE - Embattled Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler announced today that he will not seek reelection in 2019, but he vowed to remain in office for the remainder of his term while fighting a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by a former staffer.

At an afternoon press conference, Schedler said he initially wanted to immediately resign.

“My first inclination was to walk away,” he said. “I’ve never been in a position like this before, but your first inclination, and certainly mine, was to just fold the tent and walk away so I could protect my family.”

After taking time to meet with his family, coworkers, and supporters, Schedler said he ultimately decided to stay in office and fight the allegations.

“As it turned out, my family and those closest to me were stronger than I initially, quite frankly,” he said. “And I knew that I would be up against a lot of judgement immediately, and disappointment.”

According to the lawsuit, which was filed last month, the alleged harassment began in 2007, not long after Schedler started working for the Secretary of State’s Office as a first assistant under then-Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, who now serves as commissioner of administration. It reportedly continued through 2017.

The lawsuit claims Schedler bought a townhouse in the same complex as the victim and began watching her activities, often commenting on them at work and asking about men who were at her home. It also accuses Schedler of punishing the woman for refusing his repeated advances, transferring her to various departments and assigning her manual labor and other “undesirable” assignments.

“All I have left is the reputation behind me of what I’ve done in my past career, and my honesty and straightforwardness,” Schedler said. “I’m sorry to my family, to this staff, and to all the loved ones and people who loved me, that I’ve loved and still love, for how disappointing this is, even with the allegations. Just remember, there’s some truth to the middle.”