West Linn releases harassment investigation report
The City of West Linn announced Tuesday afternoon that an investigation regarding sexual harassment allegations made against City Councilor Bob Martin was complete.
In making the announcement, the City also released full documentation of the third party investigation, which was handled by attorney Jill Goldsmith of Workplace Solutions NW. While Martin did admit to making flirtatious comments to accuser Emily Smith, Goldsmith ultimately found that "context matters" and that Martin's actions did not create a "pervasive" environment of sexual harassment at City-sponsored Committee for Citizen Involvement (CCI) meetings, as Smith had alleged. Goldsmith also found that Martin neither had nor attempted to use any sort of power as an elected official to coerce Smith in a manner "comparable to a supervisor in the employment context."
Rather, Goldsmith's interviews with Martin and Smith painted the picture of a "mentor-pupil" relationship during which Martin became flirtatious. Both parties also confirmed that much of the alleged harassment took place during personal conversations at Martin's home, when both parties had been drinking alcohol.
"(Martin) made up to six comments to (Smith) which she found offensive, all but one in the context of intimate personal conversations while drinking wine at his personal residence," Goldsmith wrote at the conclusion of the investigation report. "One was in the context of conducting CCI business. None of these comments are severe. Furthermore, six comments made over the course of a year do not constitute a 'pervasive' sexually harassing environment, especially given the overall welcomed context of the relationship between (Smith) and (Martin)."
Smith, a West Linn resident who serves with Martin on the seven-person CCI, first accused the councilor of sexual harassment during the public comment segment of a City Council work session Feb. 5. She said she had been harassed over the course of a year while serving on the CCI, and that she came forward publicly because of what she saw as the City's lack of policy on the matter.
In response, the City hired Goldsmith to conduct an investigation and Martin opted to take a leave of absence from the council while the investigation played out. The City's announcement Tuesday did not indicate if or when Martin would return to the council, noting only that a new code of conduct would be put in place for elected officials and volunteers.
"The policy will set clear standards for conduct, a process for reporting harassment claims and ramifications for violating the policy," Citizen Engagement Coordinator Courtney Flynn said in the release.
The full investigative report can be viewed here.