Jaquith's troubles continue to mount
One of two women who have filed lawsuits against embattled Newberg insurance agent Ben Jaquith had attempted to expand her allegations beyond the border of Yamhill County, but was unsuccessful due to the passage of time.
Stephanie Rose Johnson, who joined four other Newberg women filing criminal charges against Jaquith in 2018 on allegations of sexual harassment, added a similar charge against him last fall in Lincoln County. The charge of sexual harassment resulted in a warrant being issued for his arrest in September and he was arrested in November by police in Lincoln City. A Lincoln County grand jury returned an indictment of first- and third-degree sexual abuse against Jaquith in December. Jaquith posted $5,000 security on the $50,000 bail on Dec. 27 and was scheduled to appear Monday in Lincoln County Circuit Court.
However, it was announced soon after that the case had been dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired on the alleged offenses.
The 38-year-old was discharged from his job as an agent for American Family Insurance soon after the allegations arose in 2018, according to a spokesman for the business.
The latest complaint and arrest stems from Johnson's allegations that, in January 2015, Jaquith groped her in a hot tub during an office retreat at a rental home in Lincoln City. The warrant was issued by a Lincoln County Circuit Court judge at the behest of Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Park following an investigation by the DA's office into Johnson's allegations.
The allegations mirror claims in the Yamhill County civil case against Jaquith, filed by Johnson and Social Goods owner Robin Sikkins. She filed a lawsuit in February 2018 claiming battery, assault, negligent infliction of emotional distress and defamation.
The lawsuit seeks upwards of $750,000 in economic and non-economic damages.
Johnson filed her lawsuit against her former employer at American Family Insurance in November 2017 in Multnomah County. The venue was changed soon after to Yamhill County and the lawsuit seeks economic damages not to exceed $300,000 for back pay, front pay, loss of benefits and future earning capacity, as well as non-economic damages not to exceed $300,000 for mental suffering and emotional distress.
Contained within that lawsuit are allegations stemming from the January 2015 incident in Lincoln City, where she said she resisted numerous unwanted sexual advances by Jaquith. That portion of the lawsuit seeks non-economic damages not to exceed $200,000.
Jaquith appeared before Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Easterday in May for a hearing on the six misdemeanor counts of third-degree sexual assault charges filed against him. He is slated to appear in Yamhill County Circuit Court on Jan. 31 for a trial readiness hearing and his jury trial on the criminal charges is slated for Feb. 11-14.
Other legal battles
The complaint, filed April 23 in Yamhill County Circuit Court, alleges that Jaquith and his wife have defaulted on an $85,000 loan they secured in November 2016 for the operation of a second agency, Jaquith Family Insurance (JFI).
"JFI defaulted under the terms of the loan agreement and subsequent changes in terms agreements by failing to pay the monthly payments as agreed," the breach of contract complaint states. "The last payment on the loan was $500 on January 29, 2018."
The bank is seeking repayment of the balance of the loan, $84,709, late charges of $34, interest accrued as of the filing date, $1,467, plus interest of $15.88 per diem until the loan is paid. A second claim for relief by the bank seeks the same amount in punitive damages as well as attorney fees and other reimbursements.
Defendant files for bankruptcy
Jaquith filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November 2018, seeking protection from his creditors. As part of that filing a stay was placed on the two lawsuits against him until bankruptcy proceedings are concluded in federal court. However, Sikkins' attorney filed a motion saying his client should not be subject to that stay because she is only seeking insurance proceeds in the lawsuit. The judge has yet to rule on Sikkins' motion.