Details come to light in jail suit hearing
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A former commander of the Garfield County Jail forced himself sexually onto one of his employees over the course of a year, and did not let up even after she left the jail job and got married, the employee testified this week.
Lisa Martin Lombardo, known as Lisa Martin when she worked at the jail, was testifying in a hearing of her accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and wrongful termination against former Jail Commander Scott Dawson, who no longer lives in Colorado, and Sheriff Lou Vallario.
The hearing was to determine whether her attorney, Richard Dally, filed a formal notice of Martin’s intent to sue the county within 180 days of “the discovery of the injury,” as set out in state law.
Dawson’s attorney, Jonathan Cross, contends that the notice, mailed out on Nov. 16, 2007, was filed late and that the case cannot continue, because Martin’s alleged injuries, or the harm caused to her by Dawson, started in 2005.
Dally has argued that the clock started ticking on the day Martin was fired, May 22, 2007, and that the suit was filed before the 180-day deadline based on that date.
Dawson, who was fired from the jail in 2009 and reportedly lives in Vermont, was not at the hearing, and the attorneys for the two sides entered his statements and deposition into the record in his behalf.
Those statements, however, were not available to the public at the hearing, and now are part of a voluminous and growing set of files at the courthouse.
Martin testified that she began working for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office administration department in July 2003, shortly after her late husband, Eric Schwabb, committed suicide.
In September 2004, after she experienced conflicts with fellow employees in the administration department, she transferred to a job at the jail, she testified.
Right away, she testified, Dawson, who she claimed had been flirting with her whenever he would pass through the administration department, stepped up his attentions.
By late 2005, she continued, the two were having sex regularly. For their first night of sex, Martin testified, Dawson’s wife was out of town.
After that, Martin said, the two would “hook up … every Friday night for a year, until December 2006,” coinciding with the nights she worked at her second job.
“He would let me have time enough to go home, change, shower,” and then drive out to his home in Rulison. Once there, she said, they would drive in her car a short distance from his house and have sex, despite her objections.
“I would cry, I would object,” she said. “It was causing me great stress. … It was wrong. … It was unwanted.”
But, she said, “He was my jail commander. He told me what he wanted, what he expected. He told me I was the only one who could meet his needs, and that he was my jail commander.”
She said more than once that she thought her employment depended on her compliance with Dawson’s demands.
Cross pressed Martin over discrepancies between her testimony in court and sworn statements given during depositions early in the case, which was filed in May 2008.
Cross also tried to show that Martin was not as reluctant a sexual partner with Dawson as she claimed, playing phone messages in court in which Martin told Dawson, “I love you,” “I miss you,” and expressed other endearments.
But Martin said she recorded those messages at Dawson’s insistence, and that she was dismayed at what she was saying.
So, she continued, “I felt it was easier to … pretend it was my deceased husband” on the other end of the line.
Martin was married on May 2, 2007, and fired the end of that month, allegedly after she was caught falsifying her time cards.
She maintained she was fired to protect Dawson from legal action, among other reasons, and that Dawson continued to try to “hook up” with her even after she had left the jail.
Cross, however, maintained that Dawson was “still a big supporter of yours,” and that Dawson meant to help her with an appeal of her termination, to get her old job back.
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