Report released on alleged harassment by councilor
A second investigation regarding harassment claims against West Linn City Councilor Bob Martin is complete, and the third party investigator concluded that the allegations made by resident Alice Richmond were "unsubstantiated."
The investigator, attorney Jill Goldsmith of Workplace Solutions NW, detailed her findings in a report that was released by the City Friday morning. The report follows an initial investigation — also performed by Goldsmith — that ultimately concluded that Martin did not create a "pervasive" environment of sexual harassment, as was alleged by resident and West Linn Committee for Citizen Involvement member Emily Smith in February.
Richmond leveled her allegations shortly after Smith, and since then Martin has been on a leave of absence from the City Council. According to Goldsmith, Richmond's allegations were threefold: that Martin told her, "Be friendly to me" or "be nice to me"; that he said, "I like the way you dress — it shows off your figure,"; and that he also told her, "I am an elected, so I have power and authority, so you better be nice to me."
Richmond felt that the latter statement was in reference to grant money she routinely received from the City for a Fourth of July fireworks event.
According to Goldsmith, Martin denied making those statements as they were related by Richmond. He said he asked Richmond to be nicer not only to him, but to other volunteers during a May 8, 2017 meeting, and that he never asked her to be "nicer" in relation to grant funding. He claimed to have never made the comment about her dress, and Goldsmith wrote that, "If respondent did make such a comment or a similar comment to Complainant, it was at most a stray comment and does not amount to harassment."
She added that Richmond had never complained about the dress comment until after Smith made her allegations at a Feb. 5 council meeting. A City employee who fielded prior written and verbal complaints from Richmond said that Richmond never mentioned sexual harassment before Feb. 5.
In all, Richmond made five complaints about Martin between April and September of 2017, ranging from allegations of conspiring with planning commissioners to "accosting" and "browbeating" her during public meetings and displaying a "despotic attitude." Most of those complaints were made to the City; one was detailed in a letter to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, though Goldsmith said it was unclear if the letter was ever mailed.
"In the five complaints I reviewed which Complainant made about Respondent in 2017, none of them claimed he sexually harassed her at the time. Complainant did not make this allegation until another member of the public made this claim on February 5, 2018," Goldsmith wrote. "However, even this complaint in 2018 referred to events she claimed occurred in 2017 … Complainant expresses herself assertively in public meetings. She does not hesitate to directly confront others or raise her voice to make her points. I believe if Complainant thought she was being sexually harassed by Respondent, she would have made this complaint at the time it occurred."
Moving forward, City Manager Eileen Stein said the City Council will meet in a closed executive session May 22 to discuss the two investigations.
"The investigator will be there for that session," Stein said. "It will be a productive, informative conversation, I'm sure."
The council is also working on a new code of conduct that would be put in place to address future issues related to councilor behavior. Discussions about that code of conduct began May 7 and are scheduled to continue at a work session Monday, May 21.
The full report can be viewed here.