Harassment scandal hits lesbian group

BY Advocate.com Editors

November 05 2002 12:00 AM ET

POWER UP, a two-year-old group for lesbians in the entertainment industry, has been hit with a sexual harassment dispute involving two of the group's founding members, the Los Angeles Times reports. Karen Pearson Brown, a POWER UP cofounder and a onetime publicist for the group, has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County superior court, accusing the group's executive director and cofounder Stacy Codikow of making unwanted sexual overtures and sexually offensive comments, E-mailing her lewd photographs, asking about her sex life, and demanding Brown's resignation upon learning that Brown is bisexual. "You cannot be a founder of POWER UP if you are with men," Codikow told Brown, according to the suit. "This is a lesbian organization."

For her part, Codikow has filed briefs in response to Brown's suit, which was filed last year. She says it was Brown who made the unwanted sexual advances and that Brown twice removed her clothes at Codikow's home in a failed attempt at seducing Codikow. Codikow has filed a countersuit, saying Brown has defamed her and that she embezzled $38,000 from POWER UP.

POWER UP (the acronym stands for Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up) has between 500 and 700 members and has offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. Last year the group received significant media attention when it released a list of the Top 10 most powerful gay women in show business, which included Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, and director Kimberly Peirce.

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