County pays out $175K for harassment cases
TRENTON >> Former Mercer County airport boss Stanley Patterson once claimed he was coming after this newspaper and his accusers for exposing allegations he tried to use his county post to cultivate his own personal harem while supposedly in a committed relationship with a county HR bigwig.
“When the smoke clears, I’ll be clear,” Patterson, who lost his job and his relationship, said in an interview in January.
The only thing that cleared was the checks.
The Trentonian has learned the county so far has quietly paid out $175,000 to settle claims brought by four women employed by the county who said Patterson propositioned them for sex and made suggestive cracks to them while on the job.
Only three of them sued over their mistreatment, while a fourth woman retained the same law firm that represented the three accusers who did bring forth civil complaints against the county over Patterson’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Once the sexual misconduct allegations came to light, Patterson, a former Trenton Public Schools custodian and Wegmans sale associate, was fired from his $83,000-a-year county post that many felt his politically connected ex-girlfriend, county personnel director Raissa Walker, helped him land.
“We have zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination of any kind, and at the conclusion of the investigation into the allegations, Patterson was fired,” county spokeswoman Julie Willmot said Thursday in an emailed statement.
In all, the county is paying out $175,000 to three of the four women – all no-fault settlements – a figure that will balloon once the last one is finalized.
Willmot confirmed the last settlement with Patterson’s third accuser is pending final approval.
The county agreed to pay out $25,000 to settle claims from a fourth woman who alleged she experienced similar treatment while working under Patterson, though she didn’t formally file a lawsuit.
The biggest payout – $100,000 – went to an airport shuttle driver who has been employed with the county since 2015.
She was the first woman who sued to expose Patterson’s alleged misconduct, which included claims that Patterson retaliated against her when she turned down his request for oral sex.
She also contended he made her uncomfortable by singing sexually suggestive Eazy-E rap lyrics of “put it in your mouth” and talking about his penis.
The alleged two-timing Patterson apparently came on to the woman even though he was dating and living with Walker, who quickly dumped her on-the-prowl man once the women aired his dirty laundry.
The county settled for $50,000 with a second woman who also worked under Patterson after she stepped forward in October 2017 with even more embarrassing allegations that the former airport boss asked her during a Christmas party in 2015 to have a threesome with him and Walker, the lawsuit alleged.
The woman said Patterson continued to harass her at work after she turned down his indecent proposal, which included graphic talk about how his now-former girlfriend liked to be touched.
Growing fed up, the second victim outlined that she complained to county brass about everything when she saw Patterson watching porn on his phone at work.
Patterson, who the woman surmised had a foot fetish based off their interactions, apparently approached his accuser once he learned she went to his superiors complaining that he could no longer “talk to you” because she blabbed about their conversations.
The family of Patterson’s third accuser, who died in April, stands to make a significant chunk of change based off Patterson’s creepy antics, but a county spokeswoman said she didn’t have an exact figure since the settlement wasn’t finalized.
That woman also stepped forward with her allegations in a lawsuit. Among other things, she said Patterson promised he would take care of her financially if she slept with him.
The woman said Patterson, who apparently fancied himself a cash-flashing philanderer, told her “Stop playing. F—k me and your bills will stay paid.” He also allegedly told her he was a breast man and wanted to “suck those titties,” that he wanted the woman to “shake this head,” referring to his penis, and that he was “too much in bed” for his girlfriend, her lawsuit outlined. The fourth woman, who never formally filed suit, is getting $25,000 to settle what her attorney said were “similarly situated” allegations against Patterson. Attorney Kevin Costello, who represented all four of Patterson’s accusers, declined to further comment on the settlements. In a previous rambling, blame-game interview with The Trentonian this year, Patterson took offense to being cast in the same light as disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, cast aspersions on his accusers and claimed he was the “sacrificial lamb” for the county to claim it is serious about cracking down on workplace sexual harassment in the #MeToo era. “It’s a lie,” he said. “These women are trying to get a payday.” Patterson, who also claimed he would be cleared of any wrongdoing and go on to sue his accusers and The Trentonian for tarnishing his good reputation, couldn’t be reached for comment. His cell phone had been disconnected or he had changed his number.