By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Several local women on Monday shared what they say they and others experienced while working at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
They claim it was a hostile and toxic workplace due to gender discrimination.
During a news conference downtown, Bend City Councilor Gena Goodman-Campbell told the experience of a woman named Denise.
“I watched no less than eight women leave their posts due to a combination of bullying, oppression, demotions, false accusations, and ultimately fear,” Goodman-Campbell said.
Former sheriff’s office employee, Julie, said similar things happened to her in 2006 before Shane Nelson was even sheriff.
“I could feel that I was to be washed out immediately simply because of my gender,” Julie said. “And given no opportunity to prove what a valuable deputy I could have been.”
Julie confirmed the event was organized by We Win Strategy Group, a political consulting group that told Central Oregon Daily they were hired by the campaign to elect Bend Police Officer Scott Schaier as sheriff.
Nelson responded to the event in a press release Monday, saying many of the accusations were inaccurate.
“The timing is interesting, as this announcement appears to be election and debate related. I find this not to be coincidental,” Nelson said. “People not in line with the Sheriff’s Office mission and values will not work here, that is not what our taxpayers deserve.”
He also addressed the fact two city leaders attended the event.
“I am disappointed that Mayor Russell and Gena-Goodman Campbell did not reach out to me to discuss their concerns and learn Sheriff’s Office procedure on taking complaints before taking a stance on an issue.”
Mayor Sally Russell attended and spoke at Monday’s event but declined to comment on Nelson.
We Win CEO, Caroline Fitchett, as well as the Schaier campaign, did not respond to our request for comment.
“I’m sorry that a lot of people have already voted,” said Susan Cooper, who attended Monday’s news conference. “But when we have people who come forward, the timing is just what it is.”
You can read Nelson’s full statement below.DESCHUTES WOMEN PRESS CONF