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Multnomah County sheriff accused of creating 'hostile work environment'

The highest ranking female deputy in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has filed a tort claim notice that Sheriff Dan Staton subjected her to a hostile work environment.

Tort notices are filed ahead of lawsuits. According to the notice, filed by Sean J. Riddell on behalf of Chief Deputy Linda Yankee, Staton would “frequently make offensive sexual comments and derogatory comments about women in front of her.”

The filing also alleges Staton "frequently touched Chief Deputy Yankee inappropriately and insisted on hugging Chief Deputy Yankee, while it was his custom to shake hands with her male peers."

And the notice alleges Staton made sexually tinged comments about a number of high-level county officials,including Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, Multnomah County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Nan Waller, County Attorney Jenny Madkour, and Nancy Bennett, chief of staff to county Chair Deborah Kafoury.

According to the tort claim, the behavior allegedly began around November 2014.

After the tort claim was filed, Staton sent this email to department employees Tuesday, Feb. 2:

"I wanted to let all of you know that yesterday (Monday) I was told that a tort claim has been filed against me. There will be an article published which may or may not provide the specifics of the claim. There will be a lot of questions from you and I wish I could answer them now, but I have been advised by our county attorney not to respond at this time.

"What I am asking of you is not to allow these allegations and what you may read to affect how we serve the public and those in our care. This agency should continue its professionalism in every aspect to include our interaction with partners and elected officials.

"With this said, we have come a long way. The reputation of MCSO that has been developed is most important. I am proud of this agency, what we have accomplished and the work we have done together. When the time is appropriate I will welcome your questions."

KOIN 6 News contributed to this story.