Kimarie Stratos
Kimarie Stratos

The former CEO of Memorial Healthcare is accused in a civil lawsuit of cornering a lawyer in his office and forcibly trying to kiss her, part of what she called a pattern of sexual harassment that followed the lawyer for most of the eight years she worked for the agency.

Attorney Kimarie Stratos, who served as general counsel for the South Broward Hospital District from 2010 until September 2018, sued for wrongful termination earlier this year. She accused the district and two of its board members of stripping her of her $450,000-a-year job, retaliating against her refusal to go along with violations of the state Sunshine Law.

Last week she added sexual harassment allegations to the suit, naming longtime former Chief Executive Officer Frank Sacco as the offender. On one occasion, Stratos said, Sacco grabbed her and tried to kiss her against her will, saying “If not now, when?”

In a written statement delivered to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Sacco said the allegations against him are false.

“For over 40 years I gave all my efforts to the South Broward Hospital District and the residents of south Broward County,” Sacco said. “I am proud to have been part of a great organization that cared for so many in our community. The allegations against me have no basis in fact; I will deal with this matter through the judicial system and have every confidence that the truth will prevail.”

Efforts to reach Sacco, 71, for an interview were unsuccessful. He retired in 2016 and is not named individually in the lawsuit.

Stratos’ attorney, Chris Kleppin, said the harassment allegations were not part of Stratos’ original suit because she had to wait at least six months after she had filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That complaint was filed in the spring, months after Stratos was fired.

The allegations of misconduct span from 2011 until a short time before Sacco’s retirement. In one incident, Sacco’s goodbye hug lingered until she had to order him, twice, to let her go, according to Stratos.

According to the allegations from the updated suit, Sacco also admitted withholding job opportunities from Stratos during her tenure and connected it to his attraction toward her.

Memorial Healthcare spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin declined to comment on the specific allegations.

Sacco retired after nearly three decades as its chief executive officer. Memorial Healthcare is the operating name of the South Broward Hospital District. It runs hospitals in Hollywood, Miramar and Pembroke Pines as well as Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, also in Hollywood.

“Memorial Healthcare System has been a pillar in this community and continuously recognized nationally as one of the best places to work and an employer of choice,” Baldwin said in an emailed statement. “We remain committed to our mission, our community and our workforce. We will reserve public comment regarding this case given it is under litigation.”

Stratos added the sexual harassment allegations because she is accusing Memorial of burying complaints that she made about Sacco’s conduct. “An investigation was never opened to these events,” her attorney, Kleppin, wrote.

Sacco is not named as a defendant because he never penalized or retaliated against Stratos, Kleppin said.

South Broward Health District board members Doug Harrison and Laura Miller are named in the lawsuit, accused of harassing Stratos for her refusal to allow Sunshine Law violations.

Harrison and Miller are represented by the same lawyer representing the district.

The district has until mid-January to respond to the latest allegations