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A settlement was struck Tuesday on the third day of trial in a sexual harassment suit against a Philadelphia stock brokerage house brought by a former clerk who claimed her boss gave her a Victoria’s Secret gift certificate for Christmas and then asked her to model whatever she purchased there at the company’s holiday party. The settlement of Erika Martinez’s suit against McNamara Trading Co. was struck just one hour after another woman who works at the firm testified that she once discovered Martinez in a hotel room bathtub with their boss, Albert Perry. Although Amy Chesia disputed many of Martinez’s claims, her testimony also confirmed that some of the sexually charged incidents had occurred, including a claim that the women had played strip poker with Perry. But the jury never heard from Perry, who was expected to deny Martinez’s strongest allegations — that he had demanded sex from her on numerous occasions and that she relented and performed oral sex on him four times. Plaintiff’s attorneys Ellen M. McDowell and Elissa Westbrook Smith of McDowell Riga in Maple Shade, N.J., said the terms of the settlement are confidential. Martinez claimed that on some company trips and at parties, she was pressured into having sex with clients. She also claimed that office banter was often sex-related, and that Perry made frequent remarks about her underwear, later progressing into repeated requests to have sex with her. But defense attorney John B. Langel of Ballard Spahr Andews & Ingersoll set out in his opening statement and his cross-examination of Martinez to paint her as a an abuser of alcohol and cocaine who consented to have sex with clients and fabricated her allegations against Perry. Langel also set out to show that Martinez was a willing participant in the sexual banter, bringing Playboy magazines into the office and sometimes showing off her tattoo of a Playboy bunny by pushing down the waist of her pants. Chesia confirmed Martinez’s claim that Perry had made comments about her underwear, but said that Martinez almost always wore thongs that showed above her pants. Martinez gave the jury a vivid account of an incident in which a game of strip poker in a hotel room with her and Chesia and Perry and at least one other man participating that ended with several people naked. Chesia testified that the incident never occurred, but did confirm some aspects of Martinez’s account of another strip poker incident in a limousine. As Chesia described it, the incident began when she removed her stockings and threw them out the window. But she disputed Martinez’s claim that anyone got naked, saying instead that it ended when she and Martinez got down to their bras and panties and Perry and another man were down to their underwear. Chesia also confirmed that Perry gave Victoria’s Secret gift certificates to the women in the office, but said the gift came from both Perry and his wife, and that he never asked her to “model” what she bought with it. And although Chesia confirmed that she had sex with two employees of the firm’s clients, and that she herself did cocaine on company outings, she insisted that Martinez was wrong in saying that Perry or the McNamara firm had encouraged her to do so to keep the clients happy and generate business. The trial was expected to last until Friday, but U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson began early on to press the lawyers to engage in settlement talks. When the settlement was reached Tuesday, the jury had heard from only three witnesses — Martinez, Chesia and an expert witness for the plaintiff, Eric W. Fine, a psychiatrist from Thomas Jefferson University. Fine diagnosed Martinez as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and said that she constantly thinks about the incidents when she was coerced into having sex with Perry and clients of the firm. But in cross-examination, Langel set out to show that Fine was unaware of numerous other troubling events in Martinez’s life that contributed to her depression and anxiety. By the end of Langel’s questioning, Fine had conceded that he was unaware that Martinez had a boyfriend who had physically abused not just her but also her infant son, leading to her decision to give the child to his biological father, and that, after she was reunited with her son, she again lost touch with him due to another boyfriend’s abuse. In her opening statement, plaintiffs attorney Smith told the jury of five men and three women that Martinez was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in poverty in North Philadelphia. A pregnancy during high school forced her to leave her mother’s home, Smith said, and Martinez was working in the Gallery mall selling sneakers when she heard of a job opportunity at McNamara. Smith said Martinez was 20 years old when she interviewed for the job, and that Perry “hired her on the spot.” At first, Smith said, Martinez thought she had landed “the best job in the whole world” because she didn’t have to work on her feet, was in an office setting and had no weekend hours. But Smith said Martinez was soon confronted with an office culture in which sexual joking sometimes went too far and employees routinely looked at pornography on the Internet. Perry, she said, began making remarks about Martinez’s underwear and “loved to try to figure out” what color she was wearing that day. After the incident in Atlantic City when Martinez had sex with one of the clients, Smith said that Perry assured her that “these things happen” and that it was alright because it was “just consenting adults.” Soon after, Smith said, Martinez was given a $2,000 bonus and “felt like she was being told that the bonus was for having sex” with the client. The “unwritten rule” at McNamara, Smith said, was to “keep the client happy.” On a later out-of-town trip, Smith said, Perry exposed himself to Martinez and pleaded with her to have sex with him. She didn’t want to, Smith said, but she ultimately relented and gave him oral sex because she didn’t want him to put his hands on her. After that incident, Smith said, Perry became “relentless.” One day, she said, Perry wrote the figure $1,500 on a piece of paper and asked if Martinez would sleep with him for that amount. When she refused, he crossed out the figure and wrote $2,500. When she refused again, Smith said, he wrote $5,000 and said “You have until the end of the day to make up your mind.” When Langel began his opening statement, he left no doubt about the defense. Perry, he said, would “absolutely deny” all allegations that he had sex with Martinez. As for Martinez’s claim that she was pressured into having sex with clients to keep them happy, Langel said it “would never have happened,” and that McNamara is simply not a firm that would ever condone using sex as a business development tool. Although some of Martinez’s sexual stories may be true, Langel told the jury they would hear directly from some of the men she claims to have slept with who would deny it ever happened. The incidents that did happen, he said, were examples of “what young people today call ‘hooking up,’” and the evidence will show that Martinez was always a willing participant. Langel said the jury would also see that Martinez was never paid any bonuses for having sex, and instead would learn the true criteria that went into all bonus decisions and see that they were directly tied to her work. Instead of seeing a sexually hostile work environment, Langel said, the jury will ultimately see that Martinez’s allegations all stem from her own poor decisions and the fact that she now regrets them. “Bad choices do not give Ms. Martinez or anyone else the right to sue when you later feel bad about them,” Langel said.

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