EASTON -- Three Eastern Shore women hired to clean a weekend retreat owned by H. Morton Rosen, a Baltimore lawyer and horse breeder, are charging in a civil lawsuit that he offered to pay cash in return for sex and, when the women rebuked him, sexually assaulted them.
The suit, filed last week in Talbot County Circuit Court, alleges that the three women, who worked for Mr. Rosen at different times between May 1992 and November 1993, grew so fearful of their 64-year-old boss's advances that they quit their jobs. The plaintiffs are seeking more than $56 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
Mr. Rosen Friday called the allegations "falsehoods" and vowed to fight the suit if it goes to trial.
"I didn't even know these people too well," he said in a telephone interview. "I didn't hire them. My wife hired them. I'm really burned up about this whole thing."
Harry M. Walsh Jr., the women's lawyer, described the suit as "a garden-variety sexual harassment case, except that this guy was persistent.
"They were hired to clean his house," Mr. Walsh said, "but they were asked to do much more than that."
Mr. Rosen insisted that he did nothing wrong and suggested that the women filed the suit to tap into his wealth. "There's a conspiracy that's got together," he said. "It's a rotten thing."
Well-known in legal circles and within the Maryland racing industry, Mr. Rosen is a partner in the Rosen and Esterson law firm. He was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1953.
In the 1980s, Mr. Rosen, who resides in Baltimore, expanded his interests to include thoroughbred racing. He owns a number of racehorses and broodmares, which he keeps on his four farms in Carroll County.
Mr. Rosen is a member of the Maryland Racing Commission's casino gaming subcommittee, emerging as a vocal supporter of an economic impact study of casino gambling at state tracks. Last week he accused state officials of ignoring racing industry pleas to fund the study.
Under former Gov. Harry Hughes, he was vice chairman of the Special Advisory Commission on Professional Sports and the Economy and a member of the Maryland Home Improvement Commission.
He was vice chairman of the state Advisory Commission on Sports under Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
The former housekeepers allege that Mr. Rosen made sexual demands shortly after they were hired to work at his Easton home.
According to court papers, one of the women said Mr. Rosen asked her to accompany him to dinner and to social functions. When the invitations were turned down, the woman charges, Mr. Rosen offered her money for sex. When she refused, the suit alleges, Mr. Rosen grabbed her and attempted to kiss her.
Another of the women alleges that Mr. Rosen grabbed her and tried to fondle her.
The third woman charged that Mr. Rosen began making sexual advances toward her within days after she started work. His unwelcome overtures included grabbing her and calling her, the suit says.
After she quit the job, the suit continues, Mr. Rosen told her he would pay as much as $25,000 "if she would remain good buddies."