Everett Councilman Ron Gipson denies harassment allegations

EVERETT — City Councilman Ron Gipson hosted an event Tuesday to deny allegations that he sexually harassed women he works with at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Gipson two weeks ago returned to work as a juvenile corrections officer after spending 19 months on paid leave. He said he’s been given a 30-day suspension without pay for allegedly making inappropriate sexual comments.

“I want to be very clear: I did not sexually harass or make any (inappropriate) comments to my co-workers,” Gipson said.

Gipson said he’s contesting the findings against him through workplace arbitration. He took responsibility for “making locker room talk with my male co-workers.”

Superior Court administrators, who oversee Denney, initiated the personnel investigation in early 2014. It has cost taxpayers more than a half-million dollars. The county also paid $750,000 to settle a lawsuit that focused on Gipson’s behavior toward three women who work with him.

The county hired Mill Creek attorney Marcella Fleming Reed’s law firm to look into claims of wrongdoing about Gipson and 21 other co-workers.

Investigators concluded that Gipson made inappropriate sexual and racial remarks at work. They were unable to substantiate more serious allegations. The Daily Herald obtained a copy of the findings through a public records request.

“Mr. Gipson knew his conduct violated county policies and ignored (a supervisor’s) instructions to stop the behavior,” the report states. “Mr. Gipson’s conduct constitutes sexual harassment and violates Superior Court policy.”

Gipson called the law firm’s findings “inadequate and incomplete.”

About 50 people gathered Tuesday evening at the Everett Firefighters Hall on Hewitt Avenue to hear him speak. They included family members and supporters, but also people who objected to what Gipson was saying.

Mark Winecoff’s wife, Karen Hastings, was one of the women who settled the lawsuit with the county and whose allegations touched off the internal investigation. Hastings continues to work at Denney.

“I want to you to understand what you’ve put my wife through for the last few years,” Winecoff told Gipson during a question-and-answer period. “She can’t go to the public restroom alone because of what you’ve done to her.”

Gipson responded: “I appreciate you coming tonight, sir, and I appreciate you wanting the truth to be told. That’s what we’re here for.”

Gipson was first elected to the Everett City Council in 1995 and is trying for a sixth consecutive term in office. He’s opposed in the Nov. 3 election by Cassie Franklin, who finished ahead of him in the August primary.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Work on the light rail trackway will require over two weeks of overnight closures of 236th Street SW near I-5 in Mountlake Terrace. (Sound Transit)
Overnight closures set for 236th Street in Mountlake Terrace

The closure just east of I-5 means a detour for drivers to reach the interstate until Oct. 14.

Zach Graham stands in front of a newly restored Three Fingers Lookout. (Friends of Three Fingers Lookout)
Volunteers give makeover to precarious Three Fingers Lookout

Up high, with cliffs on all sides, the 90-year-old hut got much-needed new windows, shutters and paint.

Marysville man shot in hand during apparent drug robbery

At least two suspects were being sought, and police are seeking surveillance video.

The city of Everett is pursuing changing its municipal code's language to replace gender-specific pronouns with gender neutral words. Instead of his/her the code would use the specific position or title, such as police officer or public works director. (City of Everett)
Everett considers gender-neutral terms for municipal code

References to “he” or “she” could change to title-specific words such as “firefighter” or “police officer.”

Michealob Johnson (left), 25, is accused of killing Jae An at the Food Mart in the 6900 block of Broadway in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Trial begins for man who admitted killing a mini-mart clerk

Michealob Johnson is accused of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2019 stabbing death in Everett.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

The site of a new development along May Creek Road next to the entrance of Wallace Falls State Park on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 in Gold Bar, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Gold Bar considers home parking permits near Wallace Falls

In the past, parking spilled from Wallace Falls State Park into town. Decals could avoid conflicts.

Bothell clinic helps kids exposed to drugs and alcohol

One in every 10 kids in the U.S. had prenatal exposure. The consequences are numerous.

Most Read