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Sgt. Carolyn Townsend will receive $110k settlement more than a year after retiring

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - The Columbia County Jail in St. Helens has averaged a population of roughly 150 inmates in recent years.A former Columbia County sheriff's deputy will receive $110,000 from the county under a settlement agreement approved by county commissioners last month.

Sgt. Carolyn Townsend retired in November 2019 while on administrative leave. She had been placed on leave on Oct. 23, pending an internal investigation.

Capt. Tony Weaver, the jail commander, was placed on leave pending an investigation the day after Townsend was placed on leave. Sheriff Brian Pixley said the two investigations were unrelated.

Weaver was eventually fired.

Townsend worked in the county jail. She joined the Sheriff's Office in 2010 and was promoted to sergeant in 2016.

Under the settlement approved by the county, Townsend cannot file any lawsuit against the county, Deputy Chris Neifert, or other county employees or representatives for past conduct.

The settlement agreement states that the amount "is a compromise settlement of a doubtful and disputed claim" and that the county does not admit any fault.

The county rejected a records request filed by the Spotlight shortly after Townsend's retirement. In denying the request, the county cited a state statute allowing a public body to not release records related to personnel investigations of a public safety employee if the investigation does not result in discipline of the employee.

Other Oregon statutes allow a public body to not release records related to personnel investigations of any public employee if the investigation does result in discipline.

Because Townsend retired before the personnel investigation was completed, there was no opportunity for discipline, which means it is unknown whether or not the investigation found evidence that would have led to discipline.

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