1 of 3 arguments defending DA Jay Gaither dropped

Aug. 26, 2014 @ 07:22 AM

One of the three arguments for dismissing a sexual harassment lawsuit against District Attorney Jay Gaither was dropped, and the words "sexual needs" were dropped from another,when the N.C. Attorney General's Office submitted an amended version of its dismissal motion late Friday, two days after the original filing.

Whitney Nicole Shaffer, 27, has accused Jay Gaither, 51, of sexually harassing her during the three months that she worked for him as an assistant district attorney in early 2013. The suit claims Gaither groped her, tried to kiss her, tried to force her to touch him and sent her sexually suggestive text messages. The lawsuit said Shaffer was in fear for both her job and her safety.

The attorney general's office is representing Gaither for claims made against him in his official capacity as district attorney.

The document that Attorney General Roy Cooper filed Friday argued that Shaffer's lawsuit should be dismissed because Shaffer's allegations concern actions that Gaither took as an individual, not as district attorney, and because Shaffer technically qualifies as a member of Gaither's personal staff and thus is not legally covered by the Civil Rights Act protections that her lawsuit asserts Gaither violated.

But the document omits the argument that was in what Cooper's office filed Wednesday, that Shaffer "welcomed" Gaither's sexual advances and that the text messages show that she engaged in playful banter with Gaither.

In the part of the first filing arguing that Gaither could not be sued in his official capacity as district attorney -- for which the state of North Carolina would have to pay damages -- it used more inflammatory language, saying the actions as alleged were taken by Gaither "in his individual capacity only to fulfill his personal, sexual needs."

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office would not explain why portions of the original defense were dropped. Gaither declined to comment for this story.

In addition to the attorney general, Gaither is represented by a private attorney, who has another week to file a separate argument for dismissing Shaffer's suit.