Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred today won $20,000 and a public apology from former state Sen. John Schmitz, who conceded that the feminist lawyer is "not a slick butch lawyeress" as he described her in a 1981 press release.
"It's always been my position that if I could force Sen. Schmitz to apologize to me and the people of California, that would satisfy me more than all the money in the world," Allred said of the settlement of her $10-million libel suit against the former Newport Beach Republican.
The press release, drafted by an aide after Allred presented Schmitz with a chastity belt during a series of hearings he chaired on abortion, was entitled "Attack of the Bulldykes" and referred to an audience of "hard, Jewish and (arguably) female faces" who had come in support of women's right to choose abortion.
Allred said she plans to donate the $20,000 to groups whose members she believes were maligned in the press release, including the National Council of Jewish Women, the Gay and Lesbian Community Service Center and the California Abortion Rights Action League.
It was not clear whether Schmitz will ask the state Senate, which is paying his legal fees in the case, to pay all or part of the settlement.
Schmitz, a former board member of the John Birch Society and one-time presidential candidate, approved the wording of the apology but did not appear at today's settlement conference because "he's got other things to do that are more important," said his attorney, Donald A. Ruston.
Schmitz' apology notes that, "based on my past relationships with Gloria Allred, her husband and her family, I have never considered her to be and recognize that she is not a 'slick butch lawyeress.' "