Martin sexual assault case ruling expected later this year
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
There was no decision in the Lisa Martin sexual assault case Friday, as the judge announced he would take the lawyers’ arguments “under advisement” and issue a ruling later this year.
The hearing involved a question as to whether Martin filed a formal “notice of intent to sue” in time to make a state deadline.
An attorney for the defendant in the case, former Garfield County Jail Commander Scott Dawson, has argued that Martin missed the filing deadline. His attorney asked District Judge James Boyd to dismiss the case immediately.
But Martin’s attorney, Richard Dally, responded that she met the deadline, if only by a matter of days, and the case should go to trial.
Martin, as she was known when she worked at the jail, has filed charges of sexual harassment, sexual assault and “outrageous behavior” against Dawson, her former boss.
She also has filed wrongful termination charges against Dawson and Sheriff Lou Vallario, charging that she was fired for refusing to go along with Dawson’s alleged sexual demands once she married her current husband on May 2, 2007.
Neither Dawson nor Vallario testified in the two days of the hearing, held Thursday and Friday, although Martin did.
Martin accused Dawson of pressuring her into having sex “every Friday night for a year,” between late October 2005 and December 2006, and said she went along because she was afraid of losing her job.
Martin became a single mother of two in July, 2003, when her husband committed suicide. At about that time that she started working for the sheriff’s administration department.
She was transferred to the jail staff in 2004, and claimed in court that Dawson immediately stepped up unwanted romantic advances that had begun even before she became his employee.
She was fired on May 22, 2007, after the sheriff and Dawson accused her of padding her time card to earn more money.
Her attorney, Richard Dally, filed a notice of intent to sue on Nov. 16, 2007, which he said was a few days short of the deadline. The suit itself was filed in May 2008.
Dawson’s attorney, Jonathan Cross, argued that Martin should have filed her intent to sue much earlier than November of 2007.
“The question is, when did she know of her injury [referring to the sexual harassment]?” he said in his closing argument on Friday.
The answer, he said, is that “she should have known” as early as October of 2005, when Dawson allegedly kissed her for the first time or, a couple of weeks later, when he allegedly coerced her into having sex with him.
The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act requires that notice of such lawsuits against government employees be filed “within 180 days of discovery of the injury.”
But Dally countered that the alleged injury, which he said was both physical and “psycho-sexual,” was an ongoing matter even after Martin was fired.
He argued, citing Martin’s earlier testimony, that Martin did not fully understand her situation until Dawson continued to pursue her even after she had remarried and left the jail job.
Because of that, Dally told Judge Boyd, the clock should not have started ticking on the notice requirement until at least the date that Martin was fired.
The judge set a “status conference” date for April 1, although he did not predict with certainty whether he will have ruled on Cross’ motion by that time.
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Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org