CORBIN - Copeland & Romines Law Office, PLLC and Corbin attorney Shane Romines submitted their answer to a lawsuit filed against them last week by two former employees stating Romines had sexually harassed them. The response filed in Whitley Circuit Court on Tuesday said the sexual exchanges were consensual and neither plaintiff had reported any allegations of unwelcome advances or sexually harassing behavior so that the defendants could prevent or correct the behavior.
The lawsuit filed in Whitley Circuit Court last week states that during the course of the plaintiffs’ employment, Romines repeatedly subjected both plaintiffs - separately - to sexually graphic material, inappropriate touching and more, which is detailed throughout the lawsuit. Both plaintiffs say that Romines wanted them to be "loyal" in exchange for their continued employment or his loyalty.
The defendants' answer, filed by defense attorney Melanie J. Kilpatrick, states in early May 2020, both plaintiffs learned about their separate consensual relationships with Romines. It goes on to say that a few days after discovering that Romines was having a relationship with both of them, both plaintiffs "abruptly abandoned their jobs" on May 4 and May 8, respectively.
“Their job abandonment was followed on May 14 by a demand that Defendants provide them with a monetary settlement, or they would take Defendants to court alleging sexual harassment,” the filed answer reads. “This demand for money was the first indication Defendants ever had that either woman claimed that they had been subjected to unwelcome advances, a contention that Defendants vehemently deny.”
In the defendants' answer, Romines admits he and the plaintiffs exchanged sexually graphic photographs with one another and had sexually explicit conversations, but he says it was also done so consensually.
In the the lawsuit filed against Romines and Copeland & Romines Law Office, PLLC in Whitley Circuit Court last week, the plaintiffs had stated Romines had touched both plaintiffs in sexual ways on separate occasions. Romines also admits to this but says it was consensual between he and both plaintiffs.
The response filed by the defendants (Romines and Copeland & Romines Law Office, PLLC) goes on to say that contrary to one of the plaintiff’s statements that Romines required her to allow him to send her obscene pictures via Snapchat, the plaintiff preferred Snapchat as the means of communication between she and Romines.
“In fact, she would not add Romines as a friend on Facebook or Instagram. She communicated with Romines via Snapchat eagerly,” reads the filed answer. It also states that from April 20-May 14 of this year, this particular plaintiff had sent Romines 569 Snapchat messages, photographs and videos. The response says when Romines wouldn’t immediately answer her Snapchat messages, she would text him repeatedly until he did.
The defendants' answer says that one of the plaintiffs would refer to herself as Romines’ “patna” (partner), and his “work wife,” among other nicknames.
The answer says one of the plaintiffs had also told Romines several times over the course of her employment that she had received competing job offers at equal or greater pay. However, the defendants note the plaintiff never took those opportunities to work elsewhere, and instead used them “as bargaining tools to get more money from Defendants."
The defendants state one of the plaintiffs used the sexual relationship as a means to get some sort of payment from Romines, noting a conversation discussing having sexual intercourse in exchange for a “mommy makeover,” which would include breast enhancement and a tummy tuck surgery.
“When Romines declined both of these invitations, she texted Romines on April 24, 2020, ‘Since no mommy makeover a phone is fine. Please.’ Yet she made it clear that she refused to accept a Google Pixel phone, instead demanding a $1500.00 iPhone X, texting Romines, ‘I have to stick with Apple. You know I love my iPhone,’” the answer reads and photos of the text messages are included in the filed answer.
The defendants also state they had no knowledge of one of the plaintiffs increasing her self-medication and drinking, including using lunch breaks to take shots of alcohol.
The defendants deny Romines "ghosted" one of the plaintiffs and instead say that she actually “ghosted” him.
“The last day she worked was on May 8, 2020, yet she never told Defendants she would not be returning to work, nor did she give a reason for abandoning her job,” states the filed answer. “Throughout her tenure at Copeland & Romines, she never indicated that Romines’ advances (or her advances to Romines) were unwelcome.”
The answer provided by the defendants uses multiple examples, including photos, of the plaintiffs posting positive comments about working at Copeland & Romines.
“Defendants further affirmatively state that, during the March 2020 timeframe when [the plaintiff] claims Romines was an inhuman monster who was abusing her, [the plaintiff] sent Romines a message suggesting that he open the pool at his house so that she could bring her son over,” the answer reads and a photo of the message exchange was included in the field answer.
It also says that the defendants took no tangible employment actions against the plaintiffs, and that under the applicable law and facts of this case, the plaintiffs are not entitled to punitive damages.
“Moreover, any award of punitive damages such as that sought by Plaintiffs is unconstitutional under the United States Constitution and/or the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” the answer states.
The answer ends with the defendants demanding that the original complaint be dismissed at the cost of the plaintiffs.
The Times-Tribune does not name victims in their stories and previously ran a story on the plaintiffs' lawsuit in the July 30 edition of the newspaper. A lawsuit is an allegation only.