Former McCain Institute employee takes action to sue the University

Paris Dennard reportedly is asking for nearly $10 million dollars, alleging 'leaked' ASU investigation

Paris Dennard, a former CNN political commentator and former employee of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU took action in February to seek $9.9 million from the University, according to a report Tuesday by The Arizona Republic. 

The action, called a notice of claim, is a precursor to a lawsuit. 

The notice was filed in February and was first reported on Friday by The Yellow Sheet, a political newsletter from Arizona News Service. 

The notice, which was sent to the Arizona Board of Regents, said that a leaked investigation into comments in the workplace led to lost wages and lost future opportunities for Dennard, according to reporting by The Arizona Republic. 

The claim comes after the Washington Post broke a story in August 2018, detailing a University investigation into inappropriate behavior and remarks by Dennard during his time at the McCain Institute. Dennard worked at the institute from 2013 to late 2014, when he was put on administrative leave before being “involuntarily separated” from his position in early 2015, the Post story cited from an ASU official.

Shortly after the story broke, Dennard lost his job as a commentator on CNN.

The notice of claim states that, after the investigation ended, ASU informed Dennard that the University would not publicly release the full report, according to the Republic story. But the notice alleges that an ASU official, or someone affiliated with ASU, leaked the full document to the Post, the story said. 

The Post story cited an anonymous University official who confirmed the authenticity of a report, but it is unclear from the story how the document was obtained. 

University spokesperson Bret Hovell said in an emailed statement Tuesday that the University is "not able to answer any questions related to pending or threatened litigation." 

The allegations of sexual assault involved two women, according to the original story by the Washington Post. 

Read more: Former McCain Institute employee accused of sexual assault, suspended from CNN

In an email to The Post at the time, Dennard said he believes the allegations are false, and called them “another politically motivated attempt to besmirch my character, and shame me into silence for my support of President Trump and the GOP.”

Dennard has been a staunch proponent of the Trump administration, drawing praise from the President shortly before the story broke in August of last year. 

According to the original Washington Post story, the accusations, detailed in a 13-page internal report from 2014, included allegations that Dennard made unwanted physical contact, such as touching a woman’s “neck with his tongue” and at another event whispering in her ear that he “wanted to 'f---' her."

He also allegedly “pretended to unzip his pants in her presence, tried to get her to sit on his lap and made masturbatory gestures,” the Post story cited from the report.

The internal report said that Dennard brushed the accusations off as being done "jokingly," according to the Washington Post. 

According to the Republic, Dennard's attorney previously served the Arizona Board of Regents and ASU President Michael Crow with a notice of claim in December of last year, but received no response. 

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information becomes available.


Reach the reporter at isaac.windes@asu.edu or follow @isaacdwindes on Twitter.

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