Three Alexandria women testified yesterday that they were sexually harassed by city officials while working in the administration of former city manager Douglas Harman.
Their testimony opened what is expected to be a weeklong trial in a federal lawsuit by two women, former city employees, who have accused the City of Alexandria and five former top officials of conspiring to cover up a 1983 incident of sexual harassment and of fostering a "continuing practice of discrimination against female employees."
The plaintiffs, Patricia Enneking and Elizabeth McKenna, who charge that their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection were violated, are seeking unspecified monetary damages for emotional distress and loss of pay as well as a court order barring the defendants from harassing employees.
The defendants, all now employed elsewhere, have denied the charges and have said the 1983 incident, involving the city's former planning director, Engin Artemel, was properly investigated with appropriate discipline meted out to Artemel.
In opening statements yesterday, their attorneys said Harman's administration had a good record on hiring, promoting and paying women.
In addition to Artemel, the defendants are Harman, now city manager of Fort Worth; former personnel director Robert Burnett, now working in Cincinnati; former deputy city manager Bradford Hammer, now assistant county manager in Chesterfield County, Va., and former human rights administrator Stephen Levinson, now working in Lexington, Ky.
Enneking, 34, a former city planner, testified that she became upset while dancing with Artemel at a convention in Williamsburg because he held his body extremely close to hers, moving in an objectionable manner.
She testified that Harman and Hammer joked about Artemel's behavior and participated in a toast "to Engin's activities."
Also, she said that a complaint she filed with Levinson was not investigated and that she was paid less than men with less responsibility.
After an investigation, Artemel was given a permanent reprimand, docked $800 in pay and ordered to have counseling, according to the defendants' attorneys. The plaintiffs' attorneys dispute this, saying that Artemel received a $2,500 annual pay increase two months later and that his counseling amounted to a two-hour discussion with Burnett.
Artemel said he did not dance in an objectionable manner with Enneking and two other women during the convention. "They were not struggling with me; they did not say anything while we were dancing . . . or push me away," he testified.
Former city safety officer Mary DeCampli testified that Harman frequently touched her hand or waist and on two occasions asked her to go to his hotel room. Former Planning Department employee Patricia Curran testified that Artemel often tried to rub his body against hers in the hallways and once touched her breast. Artemel denied the allegations.