PORTLAND, Ore. -- A chief deputy in the Multnomah County sheriff's office has agreed to settle a tort claim she filed, accusing Sheriff Dan Staton of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.
In the settlement, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office agreed to pay Chief Deputy Linda Yankee's attorney's fees of $12,000.
In return, Yankee agreed to retire by June 1, 2017. She will be placed on paid administrative leave until that date.
Yankee will also be awarded the Distinguished Service Award and receive a pay increase, to more than $150,000 a year, and a cost of living increase until her retirement.
Chief Deputy Linda Yankee earlier said she plans to sue the sheriff, in a story first reported in Willamette Week on Feb. 2. She is the highest ranking woman on Staton's command staff.
In the tort claim obtained by KGW, Yankee said Staton made sexist, derogatory comments about her and other high-ranking county officials, including judges and commissioners.
Yankee said Staton, in the workplace, ridiculed a judge’s appearance with a reference to a mole on her face. The documents say he referred to County Chair Deborah Kafoury's Chief of Staff as a 'blond bimbo.' He described a prosecutor's behavior in terms of ejaculation.
"You know when I first read the tort claim, I was shocked and I was offended, really as an individual," said Kafoury.
Thursday after the settlement announcement, Kafoury released this statement.
“The recently announced settlement agreement between Sheriff Dan Staton and Linda Yankee to settle sexual harassment and hostile work environment claims underscores my questions and concerns about the work environment in the Sheriff’s office.
In addition, the people of Multnomah County deserve a full accounting of the allegations that the Sheriff’s office collected personal information about the members of our charter review committee. This should include what information was gathered by what means and for what purpose, especially if the intent was to intimidate or threaten members to shape the outcome of committee decisions.
I have reached out personally to the Attorney General because I believe it is more important than ever to move forward with their independent investigation into these matters. The people of Multnomah County deserve clarity that only the Oregon Department of Justice can provide.”
Yankee also said Staton openly fat-shamed her and other employees he felt were overweight.
Kafoury asked the Attorney General's Office to investigate, based on the tort claim, along with new questions about the sheriff’s behavior during a Jan. 11 meeting with the Multnomah County Charter Review Committee.
Notes from that meeting obtained by KGW suggest the sheriff tried to intimidate local union leaders and warned that “he had full profile done on them.”
"The allegations are not only serious, they are very concerning in terms of judgment," said former sheriff Bernie Giusto.
"It’s a serious situation for the sheriff and we'll see if in fact it is limited to these allegations or if there's others to come," Giusto said.
When asked if Staton should resign, Kafoury said she thought it was too early to judge.
"I think there are still some facts that need to be discovered," said Kafoury.
Sheriff Staton released a statement after Kafoury's announcement:
Earlier today, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury made comments regarding conversations she was engaged in with Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to have their office look at recent allegations. I welcome the opportunity for an outside inquiry. I am unable to comment on the pending employee tort claim, however, I believe an outside review will result in a more complete response to all of the issues involved.
The Charter Review Committee questions Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury brought up once again, have already been addressed by my office. The County Attorney was provided with the results from an internal audit completed at my order by MCSO IT in cooperation with Oregon State Police Law Enforcement Data Systems (LEDS). This was completed to address concerns raised by individuals that confidential or law enforcement search databases were utilized to "profile" Charter Review Committee members. The results of this audit confirmed there were no inappropriate searches conducted by any MCSO staff.
I have placed a call to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's office to concur with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and recommend they conduct a review to resolve this matter once and for all.
Staton previously sent a memo to staff obtained by KGW:
“What I am asking of you is not to allow these allegations and what you may read to affect how we serve the public and those in our care. This agency should continue its professionalism in every aspect to include our interaction with partners and elected officials.
With this said, we have come a long way. The reputation of MCSO that has been developed is most important. I am proud of this agency, what we have accomplished and the work we have done together. When the time is appropriate I will welcome your questions.”
Read the tort claim. (Adult Content)
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