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Racial harassment victim files complaint

Believes accused should lose nursing license


For about two weeks after she says she was racially harassed by a neighbor, Elizabeth Philips couldn’t sleep.

She lost weight, too, and what hurt most was thinking about how the incident had affected her 15-year old daughter.

“What could be going through her mind?” she wondered.

Now, as she continues to reckon with the aftermath of the harassment, Philips has filed a legal complaint to the Oregon State Board of Nursing, stating that the perpetrator, Eva Chapin, should lose her nursing license.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: MARK COGAN - In the midst of a parking dispute, Chapin placed these two notes on Philips door April 13. Each of the four notes featured hateful language and racial epithets.

“Such a person should not be working as a nurse,” Philip said. “A nurse is supposed to be kind and helpful.”

Back on April 13, Philips arrived at her West Linn home and found a total of four notes posted on her front door, each containing racial epithets and hateful language.

“Apes were never meant to drive so stop!” one read.

“U look like a monkey & you smell like 1 too!!” read another.

Philips, who is African-American, called the police and filed a report against Chapin — her neighbor at the time. Chapin admitted to police that she had posted the notes, and stated that she was “expressing her First Amendment rights” in the midst of a parking dispute.

Though charges were filed that day, it wasn’t until a week later that Chapin was taken into custody after sending harassing text messages about Philips to another neighbor.

Chapin, 34, was charged with two counts of second-degree intimidation and one count of harassment. On May 19, West Linn City Prosecutor Amy Lindgren filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges against Chapin, but only because police had re-opened the investigation.

As Lindgren wrote in a memo to City Manager Chris Jordan, Chapin could eventually face Class C felony coercion charges at the Clackamas County Circuit Court level.

CHAPIN

“Because a municipal court can only hear misdemeanor crimes, a city prosecutor cannot file felony charges against a potential defendant,” Lindgren wrote. “By referring the case to the circuit court level, a deputy district attorney can present the case to the grand jury for potential felony charges if he/she feels it is appropriate.”

In the meantime, Chapin also faces the prospect of losing her nursing license.

The complaint to the state Board of Nursing claims that Chapin is “unfit to work as a medical professional in the State of Oregon.” Philips’ attorney, Mark Cogan, cites a number of provisions in The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics that support the complaint.

One such provision reads, “The nurse practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and unique attributes of every person.” Further, the Code of Ethics states that, “Disregard for the effects of one’s actions on others, bullying, harassment, intimidation, manipulation, threats, or violence are always morally unacceptable behaviors.”

The complaint notes that those rules apply even outside of the workplace.

“Nurses are not supposed to be bullying, abusive, hate-filled individuals,” Cogan said in an interview with The Tidings. “They are supposed to be caring, nurturing, life-affirming. They’re supposed to care for all humans. The conduct that she engaged in is absolutely contrary to the standards of nursing.”

Philips, who is originally from Ghana and has spent the past 11 years in West Linn, said she simply wants to see justice. She has since moved out of the apartment complex where Chapin lives, and also obtained a temporary stalking order against Chapin through the circuit court.

Yet nothing will erase the memory of what happened.

“It was very hard,” Philips said. “It affected me mentally, physically, emotionally. It disturbed me a lot.”

She worried most about her daughter, who had seen the notes after arriving home from West Linn High School.

“You’re going to your home, you’re supposed to get in and be happy for a little bit,” Philips said. “You get to your door, and this is what you find? Just think about it. Imagine.”

Philips and Cogan filed the nursing board complaint in an effort to prevent future harassment.

“We can’t change who (Chapin) is,” Cogan said. “But we need to put a stop to her nursing.”

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