Blunt defends handling of Ferrell firing
By Bill Raack, KWMU/AP
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Governor Matt Blunt is defending the way he handled sexual harassment allegations against the state Agriculture Department director.
Fred Ferrell was first accused of harassment last May by employee Heather Elder. But after an internal investigation, Blunt decided to keep Ferrell on the job. It was only after Elder sued that Blunt asked Ferrell to resign on Monday.
At a news conference today, Blunt said the allegations had been kept secret because the state was working on a 70-thousand-dollar settlement with Elder,
"There was a general belief amongst everybody that was looking into this that the settlement was going to occur and it was going to be settled to the satisfaction of the offended employee. What's changed is it became clear that that had not occurred and he was no longer in a position where he could lead the department."
When the details were publicized last Friday, Blunt said it became impossible for Ferrell to focus on his job.