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Armstrong Williams sexual harassment case ends in settlement

Armstrong Williams, the longtime associate of Ben Carson, last month settled a sexual harassment and retaliation suit filed by a former salesman at a D.C. outlet of Jos. A. Bank, according to court records. The complaint by Charlton Woodyard alleged that Williams, a SiriusXM radio host and owner of seven television stations, had sought sexual favors after befriending and mentoring him. With the help of Williams, Woodyard secured employment at the Washington Times and subsequently at a TV station owned by Williams’s Howard Stirk Holdings II LLC — though he was dismissed from that position.

Debra S. Katz, Woodyard’s attorney in the case, issued this statement: “The parties met and discussed their differences. They have resolved the differences between them to their mutual satisfaction and wish each other well. The terms of the resolution are confidential.”

In settling the case, Williams closes the door on further embarrassments stemming from the proceeding. The original complaint, filed last July, outlined an astonishing set of interactions between Williams, a veteran presence on conservative radio, and Woodyard. In the course of their relationship, Williams set up a meeting for Woodyard with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; took him for workouts at the Capitol Hill Results Gym; and allowed Woodyard to stay at his house. At that residence, alleged the complaint, Williams attempted to take the relationship to a new level. Williams allegedly “grabbed Mr. Woodyard’s penis through his pants and said to him, ‘you got small feet, small hands … and an oversized weapon. How does that work? How is that possible?’” says the complaint, noting that Woodyard rejected the advances.

In his original response to the complaint, Williams denied such lurid quotations. An amended response, however, admitted them, sort of: “Defendants admit that the quoted statements … were spoken, but deny the context and characterization of the allegations as editorialized in the [complaint] and on that basis deny them.” In a filing, Katz stated that Woodyard had “irrefutable proof” of the allegations.

The settlement in the case came on Dec. 7, just a couple of days after President-elect Donald Trump announced that he’d chosen Carson as his nominee to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The path to that announcement was strewn with awkwardness and misunderstandings, thanks in part to Williams. At one point, Williams said that Carson “feels he has no government experience; he’s never run a federal agency.” The New York Times had to run a correction for falsely reporting that Carson had once lived in public housing, based on information from Williams.

Similar screwy situations plagued Williams’s role in Carson’s presidential campaign.

In 1997, a former producer sued Williams, contending that he “repeatedly kissed and fondled him for almost two years,” according to a story about the matter. That case was also settled.