The Greater Washington Board of Trade plans to give its highest award for community achievement to Andrew M. Ockershausen, executive vice president of radio station WMAL.
"I'm delighted," Ockershausen said of the annual "Man of the Years" award. "I feel very much that this award goes to WMAL as well as to me."
Ockershausen last year settled out of court a complaint by an employe that he sexually harassed her, disparaged her Mexican American and Roman Catholic background and falsified her job evaluations.
The court settlement did not resolve whether the charges were true. Ockershausen yesterday denied the charges and objected to linking them to his award for "outstanding contributions to the community."
"I look forward to the accolades," Ockershausen said. "One has no relation to the other . . . Connecting the two seems to be far out."
A Board of Trade spokeswoman said Ockershausen was selected for the honor because of his "overall involvement with the community and outstanding performance" with the Board of Trade.
The lawsuit, filed last May in D.C. Superior Court by Marie Castro-Arrien of Silver Spring, followed a complaint by her against WMAL before the D.C. Human Rights Office. The office found "probable cause" to believe that WMAL violated the city's human rights law in the series of alleged incidents involving Ockershausen, but the case was not pursued further. Attorneys for Castro-Arrien withdrew the case as a tactical matter to file the lawsuit in Superior Court.
Castro-Arrien contended in her Superior Court suit that while she was an administrative assistant to Ockershausen from December 1979 to her dismissal in October 1980 she was "sexually molested, propositioned, caressed, fondled, pinched, insulted, humiliated, ridiculed, harassed, embarrassed, intimidated, slandered, defamed and degraded by Ockershausen with the cooperation, knowledge and assent" of WMAL and its parent broadcast firm, ABC. She asked $20 million damages.
All defendants in the action denied the charges and the entire case now has been settled without resolving the charges. Stuart M. Gerson, attorney for Ockershausen and WMAL, said yesterday that a condition of the out-of-court settlement prohibited any of the parties from discussing the agreement's terms and whether either he or the station agreed to pay any monetary settlement. Gerson said, "Both sides were satisfied."
A press liaison for the Board of Trade, after being informed about the court case by a reporter, said the group didn't "have any in-depth knowledge as to what ensued" after the complaint was filed. The suit was settled and has no bearing on the award, the liaison said. "It was a private litigation between two parties. That was all settled a long time ago."
Ockershausen, a 32-year veteran of the station, was selected by a committee of past award recipients, the liaison said. The Board of Trade has honored one of its members annually since 1947.
Ockershausen joined the Board of Trade in the early 1950s.