The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a workplace sexual harassment suit against former Klickitat County Deputy Prosecutor David Brown will be litigated in Clark County.
Brown had argued that state law requires him to be tried in Klickitat County because the suit was related to alleged acts by a public officer “in virtue of his or her office.”
The Supreme Court disagreed, saying that Clark County is the proper venue for the trial because the alleged acts were not in virtue of Brown’s public office, wrote Justice Mary Fairhurst. Common law defines acts done in virtue of a public office to be those which public officials are authorized to perform as part of their position; the alleged acts were not within the scope of Brown’s authority, Fairhurst wrote.
“His public office gave him the authority to prosecute,” she wrote. “His public office did not give him the authority to harass, inflict emotional distress upon, or create a hostile work environment for his co-workers.”
Resigned in July
The ruling was 8-1 with Chief Justice Barbara Madsen dissenting. Madsen wrote that case law supports keeping the case in Klickitat County.
Administrative assistants Robin Eubanks and Erin Gray have accused Brown of sexually harassing them between September 2007 and July 2010. Brown resigned from the Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in July, according to The Goldendale Sentinel.
They alleged that he sat in their shared office with his pants unzipped and legs splayed on a regular basis, licked his lips constantly while talking to them, and positioned himself so they had to rub against him in order to exit the office. The suit also claims he gave Eubanks unwelcome gifts.