Aug 12, 2017

Was Humboldt County Superior Court aware of the sexual harrassment allegations against their current CEO before they hired her?

(Kim Bartleson/Kim Eaton)
After the abrupt resignation of past CEO Kerri Keenan, you would think Humboldt Superior Court would have learned a lesson. Former Yakima County Clerk Kim Eaton is the present Humboldt County Superior Court CEO and now goes by Kim Bartleson.

I received a tip that there were a few allegations of sexual harassment made against Ms. Bartleson at her former job in Washington State and that her last name was Eaton. That tip alleged harassment of both male and female employees.

However, I could only find one article, so far, that verified one sexual harassment claim.

I could have chosen not to pursue this tip as Ms. Bartleson could make my job covering courts difficult, if she wanted. We have had a cordial relationship so far, no issues.

I did not contact her prior to publishing this post out of concern of possible retaliation and to make sure there would be no interference in my investigating this tip.

I will document and report, if I feel there is any change in the way I will be treated after this post.

I would like a written response from her, if she choses. Specifically, if her present employer knew about this issue prior to hiring her.

One cannot contact Judges directly so this is the only venue I have to ask them. Presiding Judge Joyce Hinrichs, who hired her, can respond to this inquiry, if she choses via email or a press release.

Considering the fact that Judge Hinrichs just decided to stay on for another term, I think the public deserves some answers.

If they did not know, they should look into this matter and talk to Humboldt County Superior employees.

I doubt anyone will feel safe enough to speak based on my previous coverage of other Humboldt County Superior Court management issues.

Excerpt from Oregonlive:

ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- A judge has blocked the release of 95 text messages between theYakima County clerk and a male office employee who filed a sexual harassment complaint against her last year, ruling that a reasonable person would find the contents "highly offensive." 

The Yakima Herald-Republic had sought the release of all documents regarding the harassment complaint in a public records request to Yakima County after receiving an anonymous tip in January.

Related information:

October 2015 Humboldt County Superior Court Press Release:

The recruitment and interview process to select a new administrator has concluded and the superior court has named Ms. Kim Bartleson as its new Court Executive Officer/Jury Commissioner. Ms. Bartleson is scheduled to begin her duties on Oct. 26. She comes to the court with 22 years of experience as a court executive in Washington state. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from Ashford University, and she is a Fellow of the Institute for Court Management.

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  1. I guess background checks for public officials is just a sentence on an application? Seems every other new hire has some dis-qualifier that gets overlooked. Or disregarded. ~TMOB

    1. Humboldt County is so enamored with always hiring from outside the County, regardless of having local people that are qualified. Then they don't bother to do proper background checks. Sometimes, it works out the best candidate is not local; sometimes it does not.