SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The city of Provo, Utah, has reached a $750,000 settlement with five women who said in a lawsuit that it failed to take action to protect them from sexual harassment and assault by a former police chief.
The lawsuit, which also targeted former Police Chief John King, was filed in March and moved to federal court, which the city suggested may have prompted the settlement announced Thursday.
“While this was a difficult case, and while the city felt that it dealt appropriately with the complaints at the time they were filed, the city also recognized that we would spend a substantial amount of money in mounting a defense,” Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said in a statement.
The settlement will allow the city and the women to put the matter behind them, Kaufusi and Michael Young, an attorney for the women, said in separate statements.
It also blunts a controversy that could have dogged Rep. John Curtis, a Republican who was Provo’s mayor while King oversaw the police force from 2014 to 2017.
The lawsuit did not name Curtis as a defendant but said he stood by King after the allegations emerged and at one point told city supervisors he did not want to hear any more complaints about King.
Curtis’s congressional office declined to comment on the settlement. He has previously called the allegations against King “appalling” and denied protecting him.
King previously denied the allegations through his attorney Loren Weiss, who did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment Friday.
The women have claimed the city and Curtis knew about complaints against King for several years before he resigned in March 2017.
King said at the time that he wanted to spend more time with his family. However, Curtis revealed days later that he had asked for King’s resignation over a sexual assault allegation.
Authorities investigated the allegation and decided against filing charges.
The Associated Press does not generally name people who say they are victims of sexual harassment or assault.
Part of the $750,000 was paid by Provo’s insurance carrier, the city said. The mayor’s office declined to answer additional questions about the settlement.
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