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January 17, 2013
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Judge spikes employment suit against sheriff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A local judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit brought by former Glenwood Springs resident Lisa Martin against Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, which alleged that Vallario and his jail commander improperly fired Martin in 2007.

Ninth District Judge James Boyd issued the ruling on Tuesday.

A related civil trial, involving sexual assault and harassment claims by Martin against former Garfield County jail commander Scott Dawson, is scheduled for late September.

The order issued on Tuesday by Judge Boyd, in Martin's case against Vallario and Dawson together, ruled that Martin, who worked for the sheriff's office and then at the county jail from 2004 to 2007, was fired in accordance with departmental policies in 2007.

"We knew it was coming," said Vallario on Wednesday, explaining that the judge had told him earlier what to expect in the ultimate ruling.

"I'm pleased," Vallario said. "Once again it shows that the Garfield County Sheriff's Office operates properly and with the bounds of its rules and procedures."

Martin, daughter of Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, was fired over accusations of insubordination and alleged discrepancies on her time card while she was working as an inmate services technician at the jail, according to court documents.

She contended, however, that she was fired in an attempt by Vallario and Dawson to cover up an alleged campaign of sexual harassment and sexual assault by Dawson. Martin said numerous sexual assault incidents occurred over the course of her employment under Dawson's supervision.

Martin filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 against Vallario and Dawson for wrongful termination.

Dawson was fired from his jail position in 2009, for reasons Vallario refused to reveal, and reportedly moved to Vermont.

Martin also sued Dawson individually over claims that he sexually harassed and assaulted her while he was her supervisor, according to her attorney, Richard Dally.

While the case against Dawson and the sheriff has been dismissed, Martin's claims against Dawson have moved forward, starting with a decision in 2011 by Judge Boyd in her favor.

Dawson's attorney, Jonathan Cross of Denver, argued at a hearing in March 2011 that Martin's case should be dismissed because she had failed to meet a key state deadline when she filed her notice of intent to sue.

Boyd rejected that argument, leading to an appeal by Dawson to the Colorado Court of Appeals, on the timing and other issues. The appellate court upheld Boyd's ruling and said the case should continue to trial.

The appellate court dismissed some of Martin's claims against Dawson because they were covered by governmental immunity, Vallario confirmed on Wednesday.

But the court ruled that the sexual assault and harassment claims should be decided at trial.

A week-long trial on Martin's claims against Dawson is set for late September, according to Dally.

Neither Martin nor Dawson could be reached for comment for this story.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 17, 2013 12:18AM Published Jan 17, 2013 12:17AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.