TACOMA — The trial for Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols’ alleged sexual harassment of a former employee has been delayed until after the Nov. 6 general election.
U. S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ordered the 10-day civil jury trial that was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 16 to instead begin Dec. 11.
Nichols and his attorney, Suzanne Michael, argued in court papers filed last month that the delay was necessary because Nichols would be busy campaigning for re-election and Michael had another trial scheduled at the same time.
“In this case, the Court finds that Nichols has established good cause for a short continuance of trial,” Settle wrote in an order filed April 30. “Nichols has shown that professional obligations would interfere with the current trial date.”
Tina Hendrickson filed a complaint and demand for jury trial June 1 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma.
In her lawsuit, Hendrickson said she was denied a raise because she had rejected Nichols’ “romantic and sexual overtures” between April 2015 and April 2017.
In Nichols’ answer to the complaint, he admits he told Hendrickson that he “would be interested in a romantic relationship” with her, but denied allegations of wrongdoing.
A 20-page investigative report prepared by Robin Nielsen of Seattle-based Workplace Consulting PLLC, backs up Nichols’ claim of no wrongdoing.
Nielsen concluded that Nichols likely “made overtures of romantic interest to Ms. Hendrickson for a period of several months in 2015, that he occasionally made indirect actions thereafter that Ms. Hendrickson could reasonably interpret as suggesting a continued romantic interest, and that some of Mr. Nichols’ attention was likely unwelcome to Ms. Hendrickson, but that Mr. Nichols did not create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment for Ms. Hendrickson.”
The May 22, 2017, report further concluded that Nichols “did not make submission to any of his romantic advances a condition of Ms. Hendrickson’s employment, nor did he use Ms. Hendrickson’s submission to or rejection of any of his romantic advances a basis for any decisions affecting her employment.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].