Skin Game

Complaints of lewd conduct come from an ex-stripper

As lawyers busy themselves with fleshing out the facts, new twists have emerged in the sexual harassment lawsuit against a veteran lobbyist for Baylor College of Medicine.

Thomas Kleinworth, Baylor's senior director of government relations, was sued by his then-administrative coordinator Annette McManus. She described him as a virtual sex-crazed fiend, saying he gave her a vibrator and other suggestive gifts, e-mailed explicit photos of sex acts, told her of his trysts -- some allegedly occurring in a Baylor-owned apartment in Austin -- and tried to make indecent advances on her (see "Down the Hall," August 8).

In various legal briefs, McManus told of crying at night and suffering anxiety attacks over the harassment until she finally reported it to officials of the college. She said they refused to take meaningful action, allegedly because Kleinworth was instrumental in bringing the school an estimated $30 million in various grants and programs.

McManus also filed a discrimination charge against Baylor with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "Mr. Kleinworth's tales of prostitutes, topless bars and sexual affairs are also routine within the walls of Baylor," she said in an EEOC statement.

As it turns out, McManus hardly needed Kleinworth to tell her about topless bars. She's a former stripper.

While the discovery phase of the case continues in state District Judge Jane Bland's court, defense attorney A.J. Harper II has filed subpoenas for employment information on McManus from the A-list of G-string establishments in Houston: Centerfolds, the Colorado Bar and Grill, the Men's Club and Rick's Cabaret. The request seeks wage and working facts under her current name as well as six others, including Annette L. Boody.

Her attorney, John T. Simpson Jr., said she took the stripping work for a few months several years ago to boost her limited finances during a divorce.

She was recognized by Baylor co-workers at one club. She reported her moonlighting to supervisors, and they said the work was acceptable, Simpson said.

Harper, Kleinworth's attorney, says information is still coming in about the extent of McManus's topless dancing, but he strongly disputes any notion that it was only for a "brief" period. He also is appalled by what he calls "overstated and exaggerated" claims by McManus in her petition to the court.

Harper declined to discuss specifics of the case but says he is confident of the defense. Kleinworth has denied the allegations. His office has been relocated at Baylor, which offered to transfer McManus to other positions at the college. She refused and quit, saying she'd done nothing wrong in her 15 years there.

The effect of McManus's stripping days on her case is uncertain. Simpson said he didn't reveal her past dancing for the original Houston Press article because it was irrelevant to her treatment in her day job.

 
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