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

14 residents and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Regency on Whidbey. (Regency on Whidbey)
Virus outbreak reported at Whidbey long-term care facility

Eighteen people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Regency in Oak Harbor.

Everett Community College anthropology instructor Cynthia Clarke. (Everett Community College) 20201123
EvCC mourns the loss of a strong-willed instructor

Cynthia Clarke taught anthropology while raising money for student programs and scholarships.

Deputies investigating body found off Highway 9 in Cathcart

The death of the 56-year-old man from Olympia is not currently considered suspicious.

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman arrives to talk to reporters, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down Eyman's Initiative 976, a measure that would have steeply discounted the price of car registrations at $30 while gutting transportation budgets across Washington state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Eyman must wait until December to get his day in court

His trial for alleged campaign wrongdoing was halted after a family member of someone on the AG’s staff fell ill.

Xiaomei, a recovered mother goat, is now in good health after a bad bout of mastitis earlier this year. (Kira Erickson / Whidbey News-Times)
Whidbey woman takes in two goats deemed lost cause

With snacks, cuddles, massages and Chinese medicine, she nurtured the animals back to health.

Whidbey man charged in assault hid loaded guns in kids’ rooms

Guns were found in a kitchen drawer, under a bed pillow and in each of the children’s bedroom closets.

Snohomish man, 26, dies in Saturday night crash

Colton R. Mayhew was the only person in the car. He crashed east of Snohomish and died at the scene.

Sharon Olson gets ready to hand out meals for Thanksgiving. She and her husband Matt Olson have provided enough food to feed about 160 people this year. (Contributed photo)
Thanksgiving dinners stay small this year, some go online

Many plan to stay home to avoid spreading the virus. Some have lent a hand to those in need.

Members of the Marysville resue team, Matt Campbell (left) and Tobin McGowan string lights on the Marysville water towner Friday November 20, 2020. Holiday lights have been a tradition for decades, but last year the city skipped it because the tower needed repairs. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After dark year, Marysville tower lights up for the holidays

Last year the water tower was not illuminated, breaking a nearly quarter century-long tradition.

Most Read