ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Sharon Clatterbaugh recalled a meeting with a Roman Catholic priest during which her boss at the United Way of America, William Aramony, pulled her aside and whispered to her not to bother turning down her own bed that night.
Aramony, then president of the nation's largest charity, made it clear during that 1985 business trip that he wanted to sleep with her, Ms. Clatterbaugh said.
"He told me I would never have to worry about money again," Ms. Clatterbaugh testified.
Similar tales have been told over and over at Aramony's fraud trial in federal court, where prosecutors claim the former executive, now 67, repeatedly propositioned younger women and romanced them with United Way money, billing the charity for getaways to London, Paris, Egypt, Las Vegas and other spots.
Two other men, Stephen J. Paulachak and Thomas J. Merlo, are accused of helping Aramony siphon off United Way money.
Paulachak, 49, was a United Way executive from 1971 to 1988 and president of a spinoff company that Aramony allegedly used as his personal piggy bank. Merlo, 64, was a consultant and then chief financial officer from 1990 to 1992.
Aramony's lawyers contend that any abuses resulted from bumbling by Aramony's staff and lax oversight by United Way directors.
But prosecutors and many who watched Aramony in his 22 years as head of the charity say his womanizing and misuse of bank accounts were no secret. And according to testimony, Aramony tried to bamboozle, buy off or intimidate those who could have blown the whistle.
"This case is about a simple, terrible truth - a gross abuse of public trust," Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Bellows said.
Aramony, who resigned in disgrace in 1992, was confronted about his alleged philandering and profligate spending two years earlier by Sears, Roebuck and Co. chief Edward A. Brennan, who at the time was chairman of the United Way.
Brennan testified that Aramony denied the allegations, telling Brennan that an illness had left him impotent and incapable of sex.
Six women have testified in the trial, now in its third week, that Aramony sought sexual relationships with them. Two of those women said they turned him down.
"He said don't bother turning down my bed tonight because I wouldn't be needing it," Ms. Clatterbaugh recalled. Disgusted, the former office assistant told Aramony: "I am not attracted to power. You have nothing I need."
Barbara Florence, another former Aramony office assistant, testified that after she spurned his advances during a business trip in 1985, Aramony offered her a better job to keep her quiet, even if it meant ousting another employee.
"I told him I thought he was a sex maniac or a pervert or whatever you want to call it, and I didn't want to be around him anymore," she said.
Aramony was married at the time and was having an affair with another secretary, witnesses said. He begged Ms. Florence not to tell the other woman about his advance, she said.
Lori Villasor, another witness who testified under immunity from prosecution, said her four-year affair with Aramony began in 1986, when she was 17.
Ms. Villasor was introduced to Aramony by her older sister, Lisa, who testified she had met Aramony on an airplane earlier that year and within weeks had moved to Alexandria to work at United Way's headquarters and begin a brief affair with him.
Ms. Villasor testified she received a $27,500 salary two years in a row to visit Florida shopping malls where Merlo might invest.Over four years, she said, she was paid nearly $80,000 for accounting work, even though she had no accounting degree.
Charity money also purchased a luxury apartment in New York that Aramony had told United Way officers was a business office, witnesses said. Only he and Ms. Villasor had keys.