Judge temporarily blocks names in SFCC harassment case

Judge temporarily blocks names in SFCC harassment case
Dr. Darren Pitcher resigned as acting president of Spokane Falls Community College

A Spokane County Superior Court judge Monday temporarily blocked the release of women’s names who made or witnessed claims of sexual harassment against the now-former president of Spokane Falls Community College.

Darren Pitcher resigned in late February; it was later revealed he had been under investigation for sexual harassment.

Court documents say one woman claims she was “subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and retaliation” including Pitcher exposing himself to the woman, “grooming her for a quid pro quo sexual encounter and, in fact, engaged in inappropriate sexual intercourse with her.”

Another woman, listed as Jane Doe #9, says Pitcher sent her inappropriate sexual messages. Jane Doe’s 2-8 are listed in the claim as women who were interviewed and supported the claims of sexual harassment.

KXLY and other media requested copies of the investigation as part of a public records request.

An attorney representing Jane Doe #1 wants the names redacted before release, saying the release violates their privacy and could cause them harm. In court Monday that attorney, Nicholas Kovarik, said a public release of the names would “take us back to 1940” when people were afraid to come out about sexual harassment.

KXLY is not fighting for the release of the records. We have a station policy not to release the names of sexual assault and sexual harassment victims and alleged victims without their consent. The Spokesman-Review wants the names released, saying the public records laws in Washington require public records to be released in full, whether the paper prints them or not.

In court Monday, Judge Annette Plese agreed that releasing the names could cause “irreversible harm” to the potential witnesses and victims. She granted that the names be temporarily redacted until she can conduct a full hearing on the matter.

That hearing has been set for March 30th.

In the meantime, the community college will work to redact the names from the 460 pages of investigation documents and release the redacted records to requesting media. The college said Monday they expect that to take seven days to complete.