Oswalt, Foxworth return to the office
- Nick Budnick
- Portland Tribune - News
Soap-opera drama is done with; now it's back to daily grind
The two main participants in a very public drama are returning to work at the Portland Police Bureau - former Chief Derrick Foxworth and the woman who accused him of wrongdoing, Angela Oswalt.
Oswalt, the police desk clerk whose letters threatening a lawsuit led to the demotion of Foxworth, went back to work Wednesday at North Precinct. A recent phone call to the main number there produced the response, 'Hello, North Precinct, this is Angela.'
Meanwhile, Foxworth - who'd been demoted to captain, then promoted to commander a few days later - officially came off adminstrative leave on Wednesday, as well. But he used vacation time to postpone his return and is expected to report for work Monday at Southeast Precinct, where he will be in charge.
Scandal has a quiet finish
The two employees' returns will mark the official end of one of the stranger episodes in Portland Polie Bureau history.
In March, Oswalt's attorney, Victor Calzaretta, delivered to Mayor Tom Potter several sexually graphic e-mails Foxworth had sent Oswalt in 2000 and 2001, when Foxworth was the commander of Northeast Precinct.
The following month, Calzaretta sent a series of letters to the city accusing Foxworth of misusing city resources and an 'abuse of power' for allegedly threatening Oswalt to keep their relationship secret - while also failing to intervene in her workplace to protect her from what she described as harassment by fellow employees.
The letters were promptly made public by the city and detailed in media accounts, making Foxworth the butt of jokes both publicly and inside the bureau he led.
The subsequent investigation of the employees' affair was conducted by city Human Resources Director Yvonne Deckard. It found no evidence that Foxworth had threatened Oswalt - in fact, it confirmed that the relationship was consensual.
The report found no evidence that fellow employees had harassed her; rather, it detailed several instances in which Oswalt's allegations and recollections were contradicted by documents or other employees.
It cleared Foxworth of wrongdoing but faulted him for 'unprofessional conduct' in voicing his opinion on a widely publicized sexual-harassment scandal in the Special Emergency Response Team, which it termed 'rumor mongering.'
In the end, Potter demoted Foxworth to captain, blaming in part a 'media frenzy' that damaged Foxworth's ability to lead.
The following week, however, new Chief Rosie Sizer promoted Foxworth to Southeast Precinct commander, saying his administrative abilities made him a good fit for the job.
Players ready to move on
While bloggers and media commentators have predicted that either Oswalt or Foxworth would file a lawsuit, it's possible the issue will just quietly fade away.
Reportedly, Oswalt was given a choice of several jobs with a variety of city bureaus, including some that paid more money. However, James Hester, her union representative, said she chose to go back to North Precinct as a desk clerk.
'She truly was committed to the police bureau, and I think she just felt that that's where she wanted to stay,' Hester said.
'I think she struggled with it because there's always the fear of retaliation and retribution. And we're going to be monitoring it closely.'
Foxworth also seemed content - given the circumstances - with how things turned out. June 17, after the report was made public, Foxworth sent friends and family a link to it, saying it 'clears me of the most serious allegations' and adding that he and his wife, Linda, were OK and 'look forward to moving beyond this situation.'
Later, as his promotion to commander was about to be announced, he sent out another e-mail to colleagues at the bureau.
'FYI I am going to SE Precinct as the Commander,' he wrote. 'I am content with the decision and looking forward to moving on. I don't want anyone to try to advocate on my behalf going to another assignment.
'I am tired and just want to move on … Thanks for all support.'
Frank Lenzi of KPAM contributed to this report.