Letter airs harassment claims against HP's ex-CEO

Dec 30, 2011 By BARBARA ORTUTAY and RACHEL METZ , AP Technology Writers

(AP) -- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd's efforts to impress an HP event hostess included showing her his checking-account balance holding over $1 million, according to a letter detailing the sexual harassment allegations that led to his ouster.

The letter was obtained late Thursday by The Associated Press after the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that Hurd's lawyers, who had attempted to keep it confidential, didn't show that disclosing it would violate California privacy rights. The ruling said information that is only "mildly embarrassing" is not protected from .

The letter, it added, does not contain trade secrets about the Palo Alto-based technology company or non-public financial information. Some sentences concerning Hurd's family were ordered redacted.

Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred sent the letter last year on behalf of Jodie Fisher, who was hired as a contract employee to help with HP networking events and who later accused Hurd of sexual harassment.

Although an HP investigation did not find any evidence to support the harassment claim, it uncovered inaccurate expense reports for his outings with Fisher. Hurd was ultimately forced out in August 2010. He now works as co-president at rival .

Allred alleged in the letter that, while Fisher was ostensibly hired an HP event hostess in late 2007, she was really brought on to accompany Hurd to HP events held out of town. Throughout 2008 and 2009, Hurd made it clear he expected to have a sexual relationship with Fisher, using his "status and authority as CEO of HP," Allred alleged.

Allred claimed that Hurd made several sexual advances toward Fisher, which Fisher rejected. In 2008, while walking with Fisher in Madrid, Hurd stopped at an ATM and showed her his checking-account balance "to impress her," according to the letter.

After Fisher rejected him a final time in October 2009, she was not hired for any future HP events, Allred alleged.

Aldred also alleged that in March 2008, Hurd told Fisher that HP was likely to purchase technology services vendor EDS. HP announced the $13 billion acquisition in May of that year.

shareholder Ernesto Espinoza had sued to have the letter unsealed. Hurd's attorney, Amy Wintersheimer, said his lawyers had requested that the be kept confidential because "it is filled with inaccuracies."

"The truth is, there never was any sexual harassment, which HP's investigation confirmed, and there never was any , which Ms. Fisher has confirmed," Wintersheimer said in a statement.

Both Allred and Hewlett-Packard Co. had no comment on the letter's contents.

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