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July 16, 2008

Doug Sutherland -- Sexual Harasser?

Blech, how I hate this story -- mostly because the details are so familiar to me, and will sound familiar to anyone who has been sexually harassed. The perps are never very original, it seems.

Goldy has posted the cringe-inducing details of incidents that occurred between Doug Sutherland, Commissioner of Public Lands, and a female college graduate who went to work in his office in 2005. Goldy's post is long, but here is just one of the statements from the alleged victim:

Jon introduces me to the commissioner. “Doug, this is [REDACTED], the new public use forester.”
I shake his hand. [REDACTED] great to meet you.”
We resume to positions in tight circle.
Commissioner reaches across circle (& Doug M.) w/ his hand & grabs my left shoulder. Feels it, then twists me around so that my back is facing him & he holds me w/ one hand & feels my back (open palmed) from my neck down to my waist, shoulders, etc. Says something about “just looking.”
I am incredulous & half-smiling w/lack of reaction & blush v. red.
Doug Mc. (I made eye contact wi/ him @ some point during the inappropriate touching) & he made a comment like “We hire them strong.” or “Strong back.”
When commissioner returned to his position in the circle he said “Could have felt… up front” or “could have felt the other side”
“Wouldn’t be right.”

Goldy raises a very relevant question: Why has the major local news media refrained from reporting this story? An investigation took place where Sutherland admits that what the victim claimed happened did, in fact, happen, although he disputes the characterization of it as harassment. More than just a couple of people in Sutherland's office knew about the incidents -- at least two other employees witnessed them. And, not surprisingly, the young woman was made to feel so uncomfortable that she resigned her post.

Wonder how long it will be before the Seattle Times or the P.I. decides to put some resources into this story. After all, since Sutherland is up for re-election against a very formidable challenger, it would seem to be quite newsworthy, eh?

Update: Well, whaddya know? The Times has the story in its Wednesday edition. It shouldn't have taken a front page post from Goldy to spur them into action -- especially since they've been sitting on the story since February -- but that's pretty much what happened. The reporter even mentions Goldy's post. I'll let you decide for yourselves whether the Times article bends over backwards to paint Sutherland as an innocent...

Score one for the blogs.

Posted by shoephone on July 16, 2008 at 01:34 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink

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