Chavis, Stansel give final testimony in NAACP suit Former aide produces shopping trip receipts

June 05, 1996|By James Bock | James Bock,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. and former aide Mary E. Stansel took the witness stand yesterday for a final round of he-said, she-said testimony in the trial of Stansel's claim that the NAACP owes her $245,200.

In an attempt to rebut Chavis' testimony that their relationship was never intimate, Stansel produced receipts from a 1990 shopping trip she made with Chavis in suburban Virginia. She said they bought him $264 worth of dress shirts and ties. She charged the purchases, and he reimbursed her with a check drawn on his joint account with his wife.

Chavis, then an official with the United Church of Christ, testified that the shopping trip "wasn't anything personal." He said he needed clothes for a business conference because he had left a travel bag in Cleveland, where he resided. In a 1995 deposition, Chavis said he had "no memory of any contact" with Stansel in 1990 except by telephone.

It was the last of many contradictions in Chavis' and Stansel's accounts as testimony concluded in the civil trial, which began May 21. Stansel, 51, testified that Chavis "intimidated" her into having sex in April 1993 and that they had a sexual relationship in 1990-1991. Chavis, 48, denied ever having sex with Stansel, whom he fired after six weeks at the NAACP.

A District of Columbia Superior Court jury of seven women and two men is expected to begin deliberations today about whether the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People owes Stansel the unpaid balance of a $332,400 agreement that Chavis made with her.

Chavis made the deal on the NAACP's behalf in November 1993 after Stansel threatened to sue him and the organization on sexual-harassment and other grounds. Nine months later, after the deal became public, the NAACP board fired Chavis.

Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. has already ruled that Chavis bears personal responsibility for the settlement.

Lawyers for Stansel and Chavis both argue that Chavis was authorized to make the settlement. They say the NAACP should pay her what is owed.

The NAACP contends that it is "not liable for a dime." The civil rights group argues that Stansel's claim had no reasonable basis and that Chavis made a "secret deal."

The NAACP, which is based in Baltimore, seeks to recoup the $87,200 already paid to Stansel.

Pub Date: 6/05/96

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