By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Chemeketa ordered to release settlement terms

SALEM — Patrick Lanning, who lost his No. 2 post at Chemeketa Community College after a fellow employee claimed he sexually assaulted her, received another $38,391 from Chemeketa when he agreed not to sue the school for wrongful termination.

The college refused to release terms of the settlement initially, but the McMinnville News-Register and Salem Statesman-Journel lodged appeals with the Marion County district attorney. He ordered Thursday that the records be released and the college complied Friday.

Lanning, who served both as president of Chemeketa's Yamhill Valley Campus in McMinnville and as vice president and chief academic officer of the college as a whole, signed the agreement in late September.

It awards him three months of his former salary of $12,797 a month, or $38,391. In goes on to limit the college to releasing only the dates of his employment and positions he held if contacted for a reference.

While Lanning admits no wrongdoing, he agrees not to sue the school or ever seek employment with the school or any arms of the school, such as its associated non-profit foundation.

Lanning was fired June 30, following a four-month investigation into accusations he fondled and assaulted the lower-ranking employee during an educational conference held at a Portland hotel in February.

He was placed on paid leave following in the immediate aftermath. He ended up collecting more than $50,000 in salary and benefits before the investigation wound up June 26, and the settlement adds almost $40,000 to that.

In July, he threatened to sue wrongful termination, defamation and failure to pay wages.

If he had sued instead of settling, it would have meant a lengthy legal entanglement for the college. Such civil suits can stretch on for years, racking up many thousands of dollars in attorney fees.

The settlement winds up nearly seven months of discussion over Lanning's status. However, fallout from the incident continues, as the alleged victim filed suit Sept. 24, seeking millions in compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, counseling fees, pain and suffering and punitive damages.

She claims the incident led her to quit her job with the college in June. She is asking the judge to triple any award handed down by a jury, pushing the potential maximum payout past the $14 million mark.

Lanning's job remains unfilled. So does the college presidency, as former holder Cheryl Roberts left at the end of the 2013-14 school year to assume the presidency of a community college in Seattle.

Jim Eustrom is serving as interim president of the McMinnville campus. A permanent replacement may not be named until Chemeketa selects someone to replace Roberts.

Chief Financial Officer Julie Huckestein is serving as interim president while the college conducts a president search. She is expected to remain at the helm through the end of the current school year in June.

 

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