PORTLAND – Well-known Portland radio and television personality Paul Linnman has been sued for $325,000 by a co-worker who claims he engaged in “unwanted sexual touching” while the two worked together at 1190 KEX.
On Wednesday, Linnman responded to the allegations in an email to KGW. "I wish I could share the truth about what’s going on here, but this is a legal matter and I’m not able to comment in any way," he said. He referred further questions to his attorney.
Kailee Kinney filed the civil suit against Clear Channel Broadcasting and Linnman, who is host of “Morning Update with Paul Linnman" on the Portland radio station.
The suit, filed in Multnomah County on Friday, alleges that Linnman in one instance came up behind Kinney and groped, slapped and squeezed her buttocks.
The suit also claims that on February 26, 2013 Linnman approached Kinney and said “I should apologize but that black dress…you look great in that black dress” while licking his lips and staring at Kinney’s breasts.
Linnman also allegedly made several other inappropriate and offensive sexual comments about Kinney, according to the court filing.
Kinney then sought medical treatment and lost $50,000 due the alleged unwanted sexual touching, according to the lawsuit. Kinney's lawyer Ashley Bannon said her client has Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of tissues and organs, and stress from the alleged incident exacerbated her condition, causing temporary loss of her eyesight.
On Wednesday, Bannon released a statement detailing why she said Kinney decided to go forward with the lawsuit. It says in part "if there is one thing my client has learned throughout this experience it is that Clear Channel seems to care a lot more about their pocketbooks than their employees."
"We’re talking about someone putting their hands on someone, unwanted. And it is my belief that he has done this before,” Kinney said
Clear Channel Market President Robert Dove told KGW, "What I can tell you is Clear Channel takes these allegations seriously, but as a matter of policy we do not discuss employee matters or comment on threatened or pending litigation."
On Feb. 25, Kinney also filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging she was subject to unlawful sexual harassment.
She said she was subjected to repeated forms of retaliation including scrutiny of her job performance. Kinney said she reported the retaliation to management but nothing was done, the complaint says.
"Anyone can claim anything in a civil lawsuit," Linnman's lawyer Sharon Peters said in a statement Wednesday. "Our legal system exists to determine the truth of those claims and we look forward to the facts coming out in this process. Paul would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support he's received."
In 2003, Kinney sued Emmis Television, which was the parent company of KOIN-TV at the time. That worker-discrimination lawsuit was settled out of court.
Linnman has worked as a broadcaster in Portland for nearly 30 years, most recently at KEX Radio and previously at KATU-TV and KGW-TV.
Linnman is perhaps best known for his 1970 TV report from the Oregon coast when crews blew up a dead beached whale. He went on to write a book about the experience.