Friday, November 13, 2009

Tyson, City Sued on Harassment Charges

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Tawnie Hansen, the former Eureka Police Department dispatcher who found herself at the center of a fight between supporters and detractors of Chief Garr Nielsen, has filed a huge lawsuit against the City of Eureka and City Manager David Tyson.

Hansen, who is asking for $1.4 million plus punitive damages, alleges that the city slow-played an investigation into who was behind a blog called Above the Law, which was written from an anti-Nielsen point of view and hinted that Nielsen and Hansen, both married, had been having an affair. Former EPD dispatch chief DeeDee Wilson previously settled a Hansen lawsuit that accused Wilson of running the blog.

The new lawsuit against Tyson and the city alleges that the city manager intentionally broadened and stalled an investigation into the blog and purported harassment targeting Hansen, and that his motivation for doing so was psychosexual in nature. Download a copy of the suit at this link (350K, .pdf).

The suit is saucy in the extreme. Key passage here:


(b) Tyson had a personal friendship and aligned himself with Wilson, a member of the anti-Chief Nielsen group who Tyson was aware had publicly criticized Chief Nielsen at a City Council meeting and who he also knew was an adversary to Hansen;

(c) at the same time, Tyson, who spoke openly to Hansen of his potential sexual encounter with an elected Eureka official, had previously flirted with Hansen in public -- including touching her in a suggestive manner -- and intimated to her that he would be desirous of her performing a specific sexual act with him;

(d) Hansen rejected Tyson's sexually aggressive overtures and never did or said anything to convey to Tyson that she was open to them;

(e) Tyson, having been rebuffed by Hansen in this regard, was both angry with Hansen and jealous of Chief Nielsen when he learned of the above-described defamatory statements regarding Hansen's purported affair with Chief Nielsen, which statements Tyson apparently believe were true; and

(f) given these misplaced beliefs and his alignment with Wilson, Tyson had no desire to take any steps to have the defamatory publications stop or to bring to end the harrassing conduct to which Hansen was being subjected.

See the "Broken Blue Line," the Journal's July 2 cover story, for some background this matter and the EPD rift in general.

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