Former Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe. (Mark Mulligan / Herald file)

Former Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe. (Mark Mulligan / Herald file)

Snohomish County settles another Roe lawsuit for $625K

Lawsuits accused the former county prosecutor of inappropriate behavior. The county admits no fault.

EVERETT — Snohomish County has agreed to pay $625,000 to settle a fourth discrimination lawsuit filed by an ex-employee who worked under former county prosecutor Mark Roe.

The Snohomish County Council on Monday unanimously authorized the settlement to end the lawsuit, brought by former deputy prosecutor Dana Bittinger, who worked for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office until early 2019.

Bittinger sued the county in King County Superior Court in October, echoing allegations made by other ex-employees that Roe said and did inappropriate things when he served as the county’s top prosecutor from 2009 until he retired at the end of 2018.

Her settlement brings the total county payouts to those ex-employees to more than $1.3 million.

In each of the settlement agreements, the county admitted no fault.

Under the terms of the latest settlement, $264,000 of the payout will go toward attorneys fees and costs.

Roe declined to comment on the specifics of the settlement via email on Monday.

“Until the whole thing is done, as in signed and entered in court, I won’t have anything else to say to add to what I said previously,” he said. “I haven’t been part of the discussion or negotiations, nor should I have been, so I am just hearing about this today.”

Roe previously called the bulk of the allegations made by the first plaintiff, Bob Lenz, “either completely false and untrue, or grossly twisted and distorted.”

The Snohomish County Council in February OK’d a $175,000 payout in the case of Lenz, the office’s former operations manager, who claimed that he faced retaliation for complaining about the workplace atmosphere. Lenz alleged his office was moved and his responsibilities were taken away as a result.

In December, the council authorized a $250,000 payout in the case of former deputy prosecutor Theodor “Ted” Mueser, who alleged he suffered “adverse employment actions” after he complained about an environment that made men “feel threatened and harassed.”

That same month, the council approved a $325,000 settlement to end a lawsuit filed by Kari King, a former victim advocate who claimed the county “did nothing to stop the discriminatory actions.”

Roe would “openly discuss his preference for skinny women,” refer to men in his office as “retards” or homophobic slurs and call heavyset women “cows,” according to King’s lawsuit. Bittinger’s lawsuit made the same claims.

Roe previously acknowledged in a written response to The Herald that he’d engaged in “playful banter” and acted casually outside of the courtroom, but strongly denied King’s claims.

“Most of what Ms. King alleges is patently false, and did not occur, and to the extent anything did occur or was said, her lawsuit embellishes, exaggerates, distorts, and takes them totally out of context,” he wrote.

Prosecutor Adam Cornell, who ran unopposed to become the prosecutor after Roe, declined to comment on the latest settlement. The agreement bars county officials from discussing it.

Bittinger, King and Mueser were represented by Seattle attorney Robin Williams Phillips, who said in a Monday email that Bittinger wasn’t available to comment.

Bittinger, who worked for the office from 2010 to January 2019, feared she would lose her job if she complained about the “sexually-charged hostile work environment,” according to her lawsuit.

She alleged that female attorneys were often “passed up for promotion,” and that she and other mothers working at the office were denied full maternity leave. When Bittinger complained, Roe called her names and promoted younger, less-experienced male attorneys before her, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states he also offered her less merit pay than her male counterparts. After she complained in an employment satisfaction survey, he refused to greet her, sneered at her and called her names, it says.

“Mark Roe’s retaliatory conduct was so severe,” Bittinger’s claim states, “the plaintiff was forced to take a medical leave of absence.”

Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; rriley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Snohomish voters want to keep an extra sales tax for roads

Voters in the Sultan area, meanwhile, were rejecting a larger commission to oversee rural Fire District 5.

Daniel Scott (center, in green jacket) and Eddie Block (bottom right) are shown in a video before the Proud Boys and other rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C.
Arlington Proud Boy ‘Milkshake’ indicted in Capitol siege

Daniel Lyons Scott faces 10 federal charges, including assaulting federal officers.

Man, 20, hit and killed in Lynnwood, another badly injured

They were part of a group riding bicycles, scooters and skateboards. They were hit by a pickup truck.

Former EvCC standout athlete killed in Spokane shooting

Jakobe Ford, 22, was named to the Northwest Athletic Conferences All-Decade teams for 2010-19.

Whispering Pines Apartments complex which is slated to be demolished in October but must be vacated on August 31. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
New low-income apartments to replace Whispering Pines

On Monday, Lynnwood approved the housing authority’s plan for another affordable apartment complex.

Laura Smith, with husband Tom, makes Danielle Lam laugh after being presented with a check for $10,000 from The Prize Patrol from Publishers Clearing House on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘Holy roses!’ A day in the life of the legendary Prize Patrol

Publishers Clearing House surprised a Mukilteo couple with a sweepstakes prize, flowers and balloons.

Mike Evans, Blue Heron Canoe Family patriarch, asks permission to navigate the Coast Salish waters as paddlers prepare to depart on their two week journey to Lummi Island. (Isabella Breda / The Herald)
Pandemic disrupted tradition, but not their love of the sea

The Blue Heron Canoe family has embarked on a two-week journey, launching from the Edmonds waterfront.

Michael Fong
Somers taps Seattle deputy mayor to lead COVID recovery

Mike Fong will oversee how Snohomish County uses its $160 million in federal relief dollars.

Lane closure set for section of Highway 527 near Canyon Park

The Washington State Department of Transportation is cleaning stormwater retention vaults.

Most Read