Speaking publicly for the first time since her allegations of sexual harassment became public, Susanne Albright said Friday she hopes her life will become more normal, but she knows it will never be the same.
Gov. Mike Lowry maintains the only thing that ever happened between him and Albright were “way-to-go pats on the knee.” He said the whole thing is a terrible misunderstanding.
Albright, 37, who left her job last November, painted a darker picture.
“There is no amount of money to compensate me for what I went through,” Albright said.
An investigation Lowry requested found his conduct did not rise to the level of sexual harassment. Only brief pats on the knee were substantiated by witnesses.
But the investigator, Seattle attorney Mary Alice Theiler, also said Lowry was oblivious to how his conduct affected people.
The report “didn’t even come close to accurately reflecting what went on and I don’t think Mike Lowry would pay nearly $100,000 out of his own pocket if that’s what happened,” Albright said.
But if what she says is true - including allegations that the governor touched her leg and the side of her breast, and once greeted her at the mansion wearing only a towel, Albright said she knows everyone wonders: “‘Why didn’t she say something?”’
She maintains she shouldn’t have had to: She said the governor knew what he was doing. “Of course he knew. When he inappropriately touched me he would withdraw his hand and slap it and say, ‘Oh, I am not supposed to do that.”’
“It’s incredibly demeaning. You don’t want to believe it. You want to believe you are in your job because you are good at what you do. I wanted to believe I had my job because he liked my work, not some part of my body.”
Albright said she could not bring herself to confront the most powerful politician in the state.
“In Olympia you forget the rest of the world even exists. You live, eat and breathe it. You think it’s the only thing in the world that matters.
“I loved my job and a hated giving it up.”
Albright said she knew she had to leave her job last winter, the day a Washington State Patrol fingerprint technician accused Lowry of inappropriately touching her.
“It was my job to defend him, and it was like the bottom dropped out. I had nothing to hold onto anymore. I knew it was all over. I literally ran out the door and never went back.”
The technician’s complaint could not be substantiated. Lowry said nothing inappropriate happened.
When the press made Albright’s complaints public, the story caught fire. Any hope of privacy was gone, she said.
“I went to get my hair cut and the two women on either side of me were talking about me. Every time I write a check someone says, ‘Oh, are you her?”’
Reporters camped out in front of her Seattle home and television cameramen used telephoto lenses to peer into her windows.
“It’s never going to go away. I’m always going to be the tag line in somebody’s newspaper. And I don’t like that.”
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