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Opening Arguments, Testimony Kick Off Source Sexual Harassment Trial

Sexual harassment

versus meeting professional expectations–those were the points raised during

opening arguments in the sexual harassment trial against The Source Magazine

yesterday (Oct. 11). Lawyers

for former Source editor Kim Osorio alleged that their client was forced

out of her position amid verbal abuse and threats of physical violence, the New

York Post reports. Although

Osorio voiced her displeasure to the magazine’s human resources department, the

lawyers stated, her complaints were ignored by executives who later fired her

when she refused to repeal her accusations. The

attorneys further claimed that Osorio, the publication’s first female editor,

had her leadership undermined by executives who berated her in front of subordinates

and accused her of sleeping with industry power brokers. "Her

bosses looked down on women and treated them as inferior," said Osorio’s

lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, who added that Osorio’s main persecutor was Source

co-owner/rapper Raymond "Benzino" Scott. "We

would be great together," Scott allegedly told Osorio, according to Thompson.

"I would be the king and you would be the queen of The Source."

Thompson

added that Scott’s propositions culminated in him pressuring Osorio to take a

trip with him to Atlantic City. "She

said ‘No,’ over and over and over to Mr. Scott, [who] would not listen,"

Thompson argued. Attorneys

for Scott and The Source disputed Thompson’s claims by saying that Osorio

was let go not because of her complaint but because of her inability to do her

job effectively. If

the magazine were so anti-female, managers would have never promoted her up the

ladder, countered Mercedes Colwin, a Source attorney. Among

the issues cited was Osorio missing deadlines, as well as her poor working relationships

with Source staff. "There

was lots of criticism about her job during the time she worked there," Colwin

said, adding that Osorio’s claims were a way for her to either protect her job

or force a financial settlement. "She was elevated beyond her capabilities.

This case is all about a hatched plan when she discovered her job was on the line."

In addition

to the opening arguments, jurors got an earful from Michelle Joyce, The Source’s

former vice president of marketing. Joyce painted a sexually degrading picture

of her tenure at the magazine as she testified about seeing pictures of topless

women on bulletin boards and noticing one employee’s computer screen display that

featured a collage of naked and scantily-clad women. Joyce

also recalled a porn movie viewing in the company mailroom. The

opening arguments, which took place in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, is the

newest chapter in the continuing battle between The Source and Osorio,

who was let go in February 2005. A

sexual harassment lawsuit was soon filed on behalf of Osorio and Joyce. However,

Joyce’s complaint was dismissed on legal ground. Joyce, who is appealing the decision,

later admitted that she lied to the company about her college education, according

to the Post.

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