A former deputy prosecuting attorney has filed a claim for $3 million in damages against Jefferson County, alleging her constitutional rights were damaged when her employment was terminated in May …
A former deputy prosecuting attorney has filed a claim for $3 million in damages against Jefferson County, alleging her constitutional rights were damaged when her employment was terminated in May 2021.
In the claim for damages, Julian Elizabeth St. Marie said she was the victim of sexual harassment by others in the prosecutor’s office.
St. Marie also alleged that she was subject to a hostile work environment, sex discrimination, and age discrimination. She additionally claimed county officials had damaged her personal and professional reputation, and alleged that “extreme and outrageous conduct” by other employees in the county prosecutor’s office had caused her “emotional distress.”
The damage claim, dated July 28, was filed by George Paul Trejo Jr., a Yakima-based attorney who is representing St. Marie.
The allegations made in the claim were strongly disputed Monday by the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
“We have received a tort claim filed by a former employee of the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office who was previously terminated,” Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Philip Hunsucker said in an email to The Leader.
“The accusations made in the tort claim describe an office that does not exist, and they wrongly demean and disparage dedicated public servants who are and remain committed to protecting the people of Jefferson County.
“The varied and numerous allegations made in the tort claim will be disproven after a full and fair process. We look forward to that day,” Hunsucker added.
The claim for damages — a necessary precursor to a lawsuit — follows a lawsuit against the county filed earlier this year by St. Marie.
That Superior Court lawsuit sought to prevent the county from releasing public records from St. Marie’s “termination file” to a citizen who had filed a document request under Washington state’s open records law.
St. Marie, who was a chief deputy prosecuting attorney and deputy prosecuting attorney for Jefferson County from June 2015 through May 2021, said her employment records contained “numerous, unsubstantiated claims and libelous statements that would cause irreparable harm” to her professional reputation if they were publicly released.
St. Marie, 57, is currently an attorney in private practice.
In her $3 million damage claim against the county, St. Marie repeated some of the allegations made in her earlier lawsuit against her former employer.
In the new allegations, she also claimed that foul language was used in the prosecutor’s office, and one employee had a sign near his desk that read, “This office runs on Red Vines, caffeine and cuss words.”
In the claim for damages, St. Marie also said other employees were lavished with praise, while her work was often criticized. She noted that one employee in the prosecutor’s office kept track of birthdays and would “lavishly decorate the office area of each attorney.” She did not get the same treatment during her birthday in 2021, however.
St. Marie also said in the claim that she has expressed concerns about “the inappropriate and unprofessional atmosphere” in the county prosecutor’s office, and the environment “hindered her work productivity and inflicted emotional distress.” She also claimed her concerns were ridiculed by others in the office.
St. Marie alleged, as well, that the county “has engaged in a campaign of harassing” her since she has returned to private practice.
In her claim, she said that when she came to the courthouse on Jan. 28 “she was subjected to the extreme humiliation of ‘enhanced security’ searches, that included flashlight searches of every crevice of her purse.” She noted that county attorneys and others were waved through security.
St. Marie also criticized the county for releasing emails from employees in court records in its response to the public records lawsuit, and she claimed she was libeled by the county when portions of the emails were reported in The Port Townsend Leader.
The publication of the emails caused “severe embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, and harm,” according to the claim for damages, and added that potential clients of St. Marie were concerned she could not be effective in Jefferson County.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here