Civil trial begins accusing state senator’s husband of groping campaign aide

COUPEVILLE — She says he groped her and tried to fondle her breasts, and she resisted.

He says it was an attempted kiss and nothing more.

This week, a civil trial began into whether what transpired between the husband of state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, and the woman

who managed the lawmaker’s 2008 campaign was an assault or an embarrassing event for two adults who drank too much.

Courtney Jones is accusing Basil Badley, a retired lawyer and lobbyist, of assault and battery when she went to his home for dinner in December 2008. Jones is seeking $100,000 in damages.

Badley’s attorney Tyna Ek told jurors the charges leveled in the lawsuit filed in November 2009 can be disproved and what happened that night was simply two adults “got drunk and exercised poor judgment.”

A jury of seven men and five women are hearing the case stemming from Jones’ Dec. 2, 2008 visit to the Camano Island home of Badley and Haugen.

Badley invited Jones over to address campaign-related matters and she arrived with a laptop and a bottle of wine. Both knew the lawmaker would be working in Olympia that night.

On Wednesday, the lawyers sketched out two very different tales of what occurred between Jones, then 28, and Badley, who was 72.

Jones arrived to find that Badley had already been drinking and didn’t stop during her visit, said her attorney, Thomas Breen.

At one point the two were seated on a couch talking when he reached over to kiss her, Breen said.

Badley allegedly held Jones’ hands behind her head and tried a second time to kiss her, but she kept her mouth closed, Breen said.

“She resists, but he does not stop,” Breen said. “She tells him no. She pushed him off.”

Jones looked to defuse the situation by suggesting they go in the kitchen to eat. There, Breen said, Badley came up behind Jones and then groped her.

And Badley didn’t stop there, Breen said. When the two found themselves again on the couch talking, he reached under her shirt and her bra and, in her struggle to get free, one of her earrings was broken.

Ek offered a completely different account, saying it was simply two people “who drank too much, way too much” and exercised poor judgment.

“This isn’t an assault and battery. There was no intent on Mr. Badley’s part to harm anybody,” she said.

Ek contended Jones accepted the dinner invitation knowing she would be alone with Badley, whom she hoped would help her find her next job. She alleged Jones drank the entire bottle of wine she brought.

Badley kissed Jones once, Ek said. When Jones mentioned his wife, he got off the couch and sat down in a chair and asked her to leave, she said.

She said Jones, in a 2010 deposition, acknowledged trying to find excuses to deter Badley but did not tell him no.

Badley and Jones exchanged emails Dec. 3 and the lawyers each used portions of them to bolster their case.

Breen noted Badley apologized to Jones for “my unwarranted and unacceptable behavior,” adding “I’m not a dirty old man when I am sober.”

But Ek keyed in on Jones quick response. “Apology accepted” begins an email that went on to say she wanted the two to remain friends and she didn’t “have any hard feelings at all.”

Breen contended the lawsuit is about holding Badley accountable for touching Jones in a sexual manner against her will. Ek countered the suit is an attempt to get money by a woman who is in financial straits and coping with depression and bipolar disorder.

And Ek cited a March 2009 entry in Jones’ journal in which the woman wrote of getting her former bosses at the Senate Democratic Caucus or Badley to “pay off my debt” so she could start anew.

Haugen, one of the Senate’s most powerful members, sat next to her husband and his attorneys during Wednesday’s opening statements and testimony. She may be called to testify in the trial.

Her presence at the front table rankled Jones’ attorneys before the trial started. They attempted Tuesday to get her and all potential witnesses excluded from the courtroom until called to testify. Breen contended seating the politically prominent Haugen — who is not a party in the case — next to her husband, could influence jurors.

But Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock denied the request.

The trial is expected to run through next week.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

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