Seven Democrats who are women members of the Legislature are demanding Governor Matt Blunt explain his retention of State Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell, who’s been accused in a lawsuit of sexual harassment, and why a large payment was authorized to a former employee of the Department in what the lawmakers say was an effort to keep information from becoming public.

Former Department employee Heather Elder is suing Ferrell. Her lawsuit was filed in response to a suit filed by the Department claiming Elder violated terms of an out of court settlement that would have given her $70,000 plus attorney’s fees. Her lawyer says no such settlement has been reached.

The seven women legislators say they have seen the Highway Patrol report on the incident that the Governor admits was illegally compiled and say it is "incomprehensivle" that Farrell has been retained.

A spokesman for the Governor says Blunt was appalled by Ferrell’s behavior and threatened to fire Ferrell unless he served a suspension, apologized, got sensitivity training and paid $10,000 as part of the settlement. The spokesman says Ferrell continues to abide by those conditions and will remain on probation.