Report cites sexual allegation against Chemeketa administrator
Bend Bulletin says tort claim notice names Patrick Lanning, who is on administrative leave from job as president of McMinnville's Yamhill Valley Campus
An allegation of sexual misconduct led to early-February action by Chemeketa Community College placing its Yamhill Valley Campus president on paid leave, according to an April 26 story in the Bend Bulletin newspaper.
Patrick Lanning, CCC chief academic officer and president of the McMinnville campus, was placed on leave in early February, Chemeketa officials have confirmed. He has not been charged with any crime.
According to the Bulletin, Chemeketa on February 24 received a tort claim notice “threatening to sue the college 'for acts of sexual abuse, or sexual contact' conducted by Patrick Lanning while the claimant 'was physically helpless.'"
A tort claim notice must be filed before someone can sue a public agency.
The News-Register has requested a copy of the tort claim document and is awaiting a response from Chemeketa legal counsel Mark Comstock. This week, Comstock formally rejected an April 19 News-Register request for disciplinary records related to Lanning, citing Oregon law allowing such records to be withheld “unless the public interest requires disclosure in the particular instance.”
No such public interest has been demonstrated, wrote Comstock. And in response to questions about the Bend Bulletin report, Chemeketa Dean of Public Information Greg Harris said, “We have no further comment.”
The Bend newspaper has been following the Lanning situation because he became the top pick for a job as president of Central Oregon Community College. The COCC board ended Lanning’s candidacy suddenly this month after learning of his employment status at Chemeketa, and reportedly restarted a presidential search expected to last another year.
Just prior to a scheduled interview with Lanning, the Bulletin reported, Chemeketa officials declined to tell the COCC board why Chemeketa President Cheryl Roberts put Lanning on paid leave.
Harris, the Bulletin reported, said the college “did not inform COCC of the investigation based on advice from legal counsel … Our intent was to take care of our employee who had an allegation against him, as we don’t know where the truth is.”
The Bulletin reported that according to the tort claim, the incident occurred Feb. 6 or 7 “in the claimant’s room at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel. The hotel was hosting the 2014 Annual Student Success & Retention Conference, at which Lanning was to speak about the challenges faced by impoverished students.”
While Lanning is on administrative leave, Jim Eustrom, Chemeketa’s executive dean for student affairs, is serving in his place.
The new manager of day-to-day activities at McMinnville's Yamhill Valley Campus is Holly Nelson, former assistant dean. She was placed in that position March 1 following the retirement of longtime Dean John Plett.
Plett continues to work on special projects under a contract that runs through June. There will be a retirement gathering honoring him in May, according to Harris.