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Jennings’ accuser files suit against Miller

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The suit, filed against the City Council in federal court in Manhattan, claims Miller tried to smear her by saying she lied when she said there was a three-month lag between the time she told the speaker about Jennings' alleged behavior and when Miller ordered an investigation into the incident, Newsday reported.

The suit also charges that she was paid less than her peers because she wrote a memo outlining her claim that she told Miller and then general counsel Thomas McMahon about the alleged harassment, Newsday said. The memo said they forced her to work with Jennings and did not investigate the complaint promptly.

Repeated calls to the City Council press office went unanswered Tuesday, and the woman's lawyer did not return calls seeking comment.

The suit seeks unspecified damages, Newsday reported.

A spokesman for the Corporation Counsel, the city's Law Department, confirmed a suit had been filed, but would not discuss details of the case.

"We are still evaluating the matter," said Aaron Blum.

A memo written by the woman lawyer and dated Sept. 26, 2002 said she told Miller during a May 2002 meeting that Jennings had used an expletive to refer to her during an angry phone call, grabbed her wrists while relating his sexual preferences and invited her on dates.

Jennings has denied the allegations.

Despite the complaints, the woman said Miller assigned her to work with the Civil Service and Labor Committee, which Jennings headed at the time.

Miller said he first heard of the complaints in August 2002, and he immediately reassigned the woman. He said he did not pursue an investigation then because the woman asked that the matter be dropped and kept confidential.

McMahon resigned from his post as general counsel last month.

Miller launched a Council investigation as well as an independent probe of Jennings' behavior in late 2003, after two of the Jamaica lawmaker's former female aides filed a federal harassment and discrimination complaint against him. According to the allegations, which first surfaced at a December meeting of the Council's Standards and Ethics Committee, Jennings forced the staffers to clean his house on mornings that they picked him up.

The complaint also said Jennings made sexual jokes and gave one woman a Caribbean doll with a giant phallus after returning from a trip there, a committee member said. One woman said she was fired after she rejected romantic overtures from Jennings.

Jennings has denied the allegations, and an aide declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Jennings also reportedly married a staff member at a quiet Brooklyn ceremony in April, according to a Newsday story. Jennings wed Ji Hye Lee, 34, an international student from Korea who works in the councilman's office, the newspaper reported Friday.

An aide for the councilman would neither confirm nor deny the marriage.

Last year Jennings thrust his love life onto the public stage when he took out two half-page ads in two Chinese-language newspapers in Queens. The ads were placed to thank the Chinese community for accepting him as a black man, but they also outlined his failed marriage to a Taiwanese woman and his relationship with a Chinese-American folk dancer.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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