Anita Alvarez threatens to sue Kim Foxx over claims of ignored harassment claims
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Former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is threatening to sue her successor Kim Foxx over her recent claims in a book that Alvarez ignored sexual harassment allegations against a top official in the office.
Alvarez’s attorney Eugene Hollander penned a letter last week along with a four-count defamation lawsuit that he planned to file May 16 unless former Daily Herald reporter Kerry Lester issues “an immediate retraction” of Foxx’s claims, which were documented by Lester in her self-published book “No, My Place: Reflections on Sexual Harassment in Illinois Government and Politics.”
“We believe that there is a strong course of action against you for actual malice as you failed to interview or attempt to interview my client or other senior members of the Alvarez administration concerning Foxx’s allegations that my client neglected to take action regarding a purported incident of sexual harassment,” the letter states.
The suit, which names Foxx and Lester as defendants, claims Foxx “never reported the allegations,” and that Foxx “intended for her extreme and outrageous conduct to inflict severe emotional distress” on Alvarez.
A spokesman for Foxx said her office had not received a copy of the suit and declined to comment.
Lester, who said she hadn’t received Hollander’s letter because it was sent to a previous address, stood by her book.
“I accurately reported the statements State’s Attorney Foxx made to me, statements which she has stood by,” Lester said. “The book is focused on the first-person reflections of sexual harassment experiences of Illinois women working in government and politics, not on any disputes between the current and former state’s attorney.”
Foxx was among 17 women from across Illinois’ political sphere whose experiences were outlined in Lester’s book, released in January in response to the burgeoning #MeToo movement.
Foxx is quoted about her time working under Alvarez and “a chief in our division who was known for everything from literally looking up women’s skirts to saying he wanted his own pretty, female intern, to asking a young woman” about performing oral sex.
Foxx says she “lobbied to get this guy fired. Problem was, he was very good friends with the former state’s attorney.”
Alvarez is not named in the book, referred to only by title.
Foxx described a tearful farewell speech that Alvarez delivered at a 2012 retirement party for the unnamed harasser.
“And it was in that moment that I knew nothing was ever going to change there,” Foxx is quoted as saying. “It’s a fruitless effort when the boss knows the predator and says, ‘He’s a good dude.’ That was it for me, and even though he was retiring, I knew I couldn’t work for her, or work there, any longer.’”
Foxx went on to unseat Alvarez as state’s attorney in 2016.
The suit would seek $6 million in punitive damages from Foxx, and $10 million from Lester.