Was Clinton's Pastry Chef Too Sweet on the Help?

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Put the words "President Clinton" and "sexual harassment" at the top of your lawsuit and what do you get? Half a dozen TV cameras and a gaggle of national reporters to cover your press conference.

Never mind that POTUS (Belt-speak for President of the United States) himself is not the one charged with doing the harassing — that dishonor goes to the top White House pastry chef, Roland Mesnier, who is alleged to have made unwanted sexual advances toward his assistant dessert-maker, Franette McCulloch, over an eight-year period.

But listing Clinton's name first in the suit sure does garner attention. On Wednesday, McCulloch's lawyers — experienced anti-discrimination litigators Lynn Bernabei and Debra Katz — justified the presidential prominence by arguing that the Clinton White House didn't do anything to protect their client from the machinations of the chief cake decorator, and worse, failed to implement federal legislation requiring that procedures be set up so that White House employees could file grievances in just such cases.

The White House says it won't comment until it gets a look at the suit, adding that it takes such allegations seriously. But at Wednesday morning's press conference, McCulloch, 53, admitted she'd never spoken to Clinton — or to Hillary, with whom she consulted regularly about White House menus — about her supervisor's behavior. The Clintons' apparent lack of direct involvement makes the story less juicy, but the suit did have some dishy details about life in the West Wing kitchen: Once, claims McCulloch, after spurning yet another advance, she was ordered to peel eight crates of kiwi fruit; and another time, instead of making the President's birthday cake, usually a highlight of the year, she was told to clean out the refrigerator.

McCulloch, who had worked at the White House under three presidents since 1983, claims she was finally forced out this summer. She's seeking $2 million in damages.