Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler has announced he will resign next week amid allegations that he sexually harassed his former secretary for years.
Schedler announced his resignation in a letter sent to Governor John Bel Edwards and said he's leaving office on Tuesday, May 8. His first assistant, Kyle Ardoin, will take over in the interim:
"Since the moment I became Secretary of State in 2010, I have given everything I have to fulfilling the duties of this unique office … This has been, and will probably remain, the most important work of my life.
It is now time for me to make a difficult choice in the best interest of my family, my staff and the citizens of this state … I leave the office knowing it is in the capable hands of my first assistant … However, I leave office with a heavy heart knowing I have disappointed the people in my life who care for me the most. But I also have experienced from them the miraculous power of forgiveness and grace during the twilight of my career, and for that I am grateful. I have been incredibly frustrated with the tabloid approach to an incredibly serious allegation and the necessity of following the advice of counsel to not try this publicly. I trust the judicial process will fairly consider all the facts when they can be properly presented in due time."
Schedler's former secretary filed a lawsuit against him in February, prompting calls for Schedler's resignation from Gov. Edwards, as well as U.S. Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy.
"Given the serious nature of the allegations, in February, I called on Secretary of State Tom Schedler to resign. In light of the additional information that has been disclosed, I believe this is the best course of action for Tom, his family, and the state of Louisiana," Edwards said in response to Shedler's resignation.
According to the lawsuit, the alleged harassment began in 2007, not long after Schedler started working for the Secretary of State's Office as a first assistant under then-Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, who now serves as commissioner of administration. It reportedly continued through 2017.
The lawsuit claims Schedler bought a townhouse in the same complex as the victim and began watching her activities, often commenting on them at work and asking about men who were at her home. It also accuses Schedler of punishing the woman for refusing his repeated advances, transferring her to various departments and assigning her manual labor and other "undesirable" assignments.
The lawsuit says in 2009, Schedler gave the woman a Valentine's Day card addressed to "My Dearest Sunshine," and said in the card that he was "not interested in a nice, normal relationship!"
The woman eventually accepted a position as Schedler's executive assistant in 2011 when he was interim Secretary of State. He was elected to the position later that year.
She claims he told her at the time that he would not pursue her romantically anymore, but eventually reverted back to making sexual advances.
When she told him again that she would never "be interested in him sexually," she was transferred to the Old State Capitol and given "virtually nothing to do all day," according to the lawsuit.
"At the time of her transfer … Schedler made it clear to her that she was going to be exiled until she learned how to please him and make him happy," the lawsuit states.