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State-and-regional
Complaint: Iowa state agency director Dave Jamison harassed women for years

DES MOINES -- The leader of the Iowa Finance Authority for years made lurid comments to women in the office, rebuffing warnings and instead escalating a climate of fear with inappropriate gestures and touching, according to a redacted complaint Gov. Kim Reynolds released Thursday — more than a month after she fired Dave Jamison.

The four-page complaint by a woman working for the authority details encounters over a number of years with Jamison, who was fired March 24 by Reynolds. The governor’s office said the victim redacted her complaint and requested its release.

PDF: Complaint letter

WARNING: The attached complaint the governor’s office received contains graphic language and descriptions. Do not open if you may be offended.

Jamison was paid more than $131,000 last year to lead the agency that, among other things, runs affordable housing and community development programs.

The assertions against him include incidents that occurred while the woman was traveling with Jamison on state business. Among them are allegations he engaged in inappropriate and uninvited touching, asked suggestive questions about her anatomy and speculated she was “naughty.”

“I want to make you and others aware that Dave Jamison has been sexually harassing me and others in the office for years,” wrote the woman, whose identity was removed from the letter the governor released. “I am terrified about coming forward, but his behavior is escalating and has to stop. It is not safe for women to be around him. I literally don’t feel safe.”

She said Jamison often complained about his home life, while asking about her sex life, talking about visiting massage parlors, staring at her and making sexual comments about her and other women. When traveling, Jamison repeatedly invited the woman and other female co-workers to his hotel room.

When a co-worker scolded Jamison for his comments, the complainant said he responded by saying, “You must be allergic to a paycheck.”

Jamison appeared to be aware that his actions were inappropriate, telling co-workers ”you know, you could sue me,” the letter said.

Reynolds fired Jamison after receiving the complaint and at least one other. The governor said she had received multiple “credible allegations” of sexual harassment by Jamison, who was a longtime colleague of hers.

Reynolds and Jamison worked together as county treasurers as well as through GOP politics and in state government. Jamison joined Reynolds March 5 at her weekly news conference to launch House Wise Iowa with the Iowa Association of Realtors.

“I know you’re friends with Dave and I hate to put this on your shoulders, but I just can’t take it anymore,” the woman wrote to Reynolds. “I think (Department of Administrative Services) will just cover for him and I’ll end up without a job. Please help me or tell me who to go to.”

The complaint, Reynolds said, was “all I needed” to act based on her “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment.

But in the weeks after the firing, her office refused to provide further information about the complaints she said she received. Reynolds argued the victims would become publicly identified because of the nature of their complaints and because the authority has a small staff.

As recently as Monday, Reynolds defended her decision not to release the complaints.

After the Associated Press filed a public records request to see all communication about the firing, the governor’s office said there was none. Reynolds said she was honoring the victim’s request to have it remain confidential. Her office maintained that Iowa law allows sexual harassment complaints by public workers against public officials to be private.

“The public’s right to know has to be balanced with the interests and well-being of the victims,” Reynolds said in a statement. “They requested confidentiality, and I can’t allow them to be victimized again by betraying that trust.

“I will not provide additional details that will allow the victims to be identified, which is against their express wishes,” she continued.

The Freedom of Information Council called on Reynolds to release the details that led to Jamison’s firing.

“All sorts of documents are made public with embarrassing details redacted,” said the council’s Randy Evans. “That could be done in this case. I think it’s a mistake of the governor to set herself above the law.”

Along with the complaint, Reynolds issued the following statement:

“This letter outlines disgusting and abhorrent behavior from David Jamison. It should only be released on the victim’s terms and no one else’s. I believe that victims of sexual harassment must be allowed to tell their story on their own timetable and on their own terms. It takes courage to come forward, and I don’t want any victim of sexual harassment to think twice about doing so in the future.”

In releasing the redacted complaint, the governor’s office acknowledged that if the victim takes legal action against the state or Jamison, her name likely will become public.

According to the governor’s office, the victims made their allegations to Reynolds’ chief of staff, Jake Ketzner, on March 23. The following day, a Saturday, she met with him, her legal counsel and David Roederer and Janet Phipps, directors of the departments of Management and Administrative Services, respectively.

Reynolds did not say what steps — if any — were taken to verify the allegations. Her office said Thursday it has had no communication with Jamison since the firing.

Jamison did not respond to a request for a comment Thursday.

House and Senate Democrats weighed in, charging that Reynolds was more interested in protecting Jamison than the victim.

“For all her talk about zero tolerance and protecting the victims of workplace harassment, it’s clear that Gov. Reynolds has been more interested in protecting her friend David Jamison,” Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said.

House Minority Leader Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said after reading the complaint he was “sickened to think any employee would have to endure what occurred.”


Gallagher
top story
GALLAGHER: Storm Lake's first family of theater 'stages' sprints for three shows in three sites

STORM LAKE, Iowa -- You've heard of three-act plays.

David Grant Walker and Bethany Larson preside over a family that has a three-play act this weekend.

Walker has built the set and directs the Buena Vista University production of "Noises Off," which features son Dalton Walker, a BVU freshman. The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday.

Over at Storm Lake High School, meantime, freshman daughter Beatrice Walker has a role in the school drama, "You Can't Take It With You," which shows at 7 p.m. today and Saturday.

TGallagher / TIM GALLAGHER tgallagher@siouxcityjournal.com 

Dalton Walker, left, rolls off the stage at Anderson Auditorium on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, as his father, David Grant Walker, and sister, Beatrice Walker, look on. Dalton Walker has a role in "Noises Off," a play directed by his father, this week at BVU where Dalton is a freshman.

Mother and wife Dr. Bethany Larson, BVU's professor of theater, will move between shows this weekend, catching her husband and their children in action before she helps strike the BVU set late Saturday night, catches a few winks, then zips to Spencer, Iowa, to participate in Sunday's dress rehearsal for "Doubt," a play by the Spare Change Theatre that shows May 4-6.

There aren't enough directions, you might say, to keep Storm Lake's "first family of theater" headed on-stage, off-stage, back-stage, stage-right or stage-left. This foursome's movement in many directions this week has one considering parallels to the "Noises Off" farce that features nine characters and nine doors, each of them flying open and slamming shut as the actors hustle here, there and everywhere.

"It's the epitome of a slamming-door farce," David says of the play, not his family. (Ha ha.)

The set he built is a marvel on its own, a 4-ton hulk that features a couple of floors and as many faces. Six people will move the set between acts, repositioning it for an alternative viewpoint, that from the backstage gang.

"It's the biggest set we've built on this stage," says Walker, the assistant professor of theater who arrived at BVU with Larson some 24 years ago. That means it's the largest set out of approximately 50 he's built.

TGallagher / TIM GALLAGHER tgallagher@siouxcityjournal.com 

Bethany Larson and husband David Grant Walker have been theater fixtures at Buena Vista University and in and around Storm Lake, Iowa, for 24 years. This weekend, David Grant Walker directs a play at Buena Vista University, while Bethany watches their children in two shows before she readies for a dress rehearsal of "Doubt" in nearby Spencer, Iowa.

And while he manages the BVU production, he can't pry himself away to watch daughter Beatrice in "You Can't Take It With You." Rather than grow frustrated with theses riches of excess, he reached out to Storm Lake High School, and helped create a sharing agreement. Those attending the production at Buena Vista tonight, for example, may head to Storm Lake High School on Saturday and merely present their BVU ticket stub for a discount in admission. Those presenting a ticket stub from the Storm Lake High School play at BVU on Saturday evening will be admitted for free.

"We normally stage our shows a week apart in the spring, but this year we landed on the same weekend," he said. "So we've decided to invite each other's audiences to catch a show on another night."

It's merely the latest in a long line of collaboration between Walker, Larson and the BVU Theatre Department, which has, for years, worked to aid theatrical undertakings at Storm Lake St. Mary's, Storm Lake Middle School and Storm Lake High School.

"Several times in the last few years, our BVU department has loaned our local schools flats, equipment, our help, anything that helps the experience for those students," he said, noting that Larson, for a few years, directed musicals at Storm Lake Middle School.

Walker invited busy Storm Lake High School students to come watch the BVU dress rehearsal earlier in the week.

TGallagher / TIM GALLAGHER tgallagher@siouxcityjournal.com 

David Grant Walker, left, directs "Noises Off" at Buena Vista University this week, while his children, Beatrice Walker and Dalton Walker, perform in a pair of plays at BVU and at Storm Lake High School. The trio is shown on Tuesday on the 4-ton moving set David Grant Walker designed and helped construct for the British farce.

"Storm Lake High School has a wonderful new theater and we've helped make the flats and made sure the walls they're using are both safe and functional," he said. "It's a lab of sorts for our students and they like the chance to give back like that."

For the director of a show featuring nine doors, it seems several to his community's live theater experience are wide open.


Lee-wire
AP
'The real Bill Cosby': Comedian convicted of sexual assault

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — After decades of whispers, lawsuits, investigations and close calls — and a multitude of women who lost hope anyone would ever believe their word against that of America's Dad — Bill Cosby could be on his way to prison at age 80 for the remainder of his life.

The comedian was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia 14 years ago in a verdict women's advocates called a turning point in the #MeToo movement that proved what Cosby's accusers had been saying all along — that his nice-guy image was a sham.

Lili Bernard, who said Cosby sexually assaulted her before giving her a one-time role on "The Cosby Show" in 1992, became so emotional in the courtroom gallery that she accidentally banged her forehead on the bench in front of her.

"I'm overcome with gratitude," Bernard, sobbing, said outside the courthouse. "I feel like I have to pinch myself. Am I awake? It's a miracle."

The verdict in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era sealed the spectacular late-in-life downfall of an entertainer who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing Dr. Cliff Huxtable.

It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said Cosby drugged and molested them over a span of five decades — but whose stories were often disbelieved or ignored years before #MeToo put a spotlight on sexual misconduct by powerful men.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated 14 hours over two days before convicting Cosby of violating Constand in 2004.

Constand, a 45-year-old Temple University women's basketball administrator, said Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called "your friends" and then assaulted her as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no. Cosby claimed the encounter was consensual, saying he gave her the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to relax.

Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele after the prosecutor demanded Cosby be sent immediately to jail. Steele told the judge Cosby has an airplane and might flee.

Cosby angrily denied he has a plane and said of Steele, "I'm sick of him!"

Judge Steven O'Neill decided Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail while he awaits sentencing but restricted him to Montgomery County, where his home is. No sentencing date was set.

Cosby waved to the crowd outside the courthouse, got into an SUV and left without saying anything. His lawyer Tom Mesereau declared "the fight is not over" and said he will appeal.

Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of Cosby's accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.

The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors had more courtroom weapons at their disposal than they did the first time: They put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too.

At Cosby's first trial, which ended in a deadlocked jury less than a year ago, only one additional accuser was allowed to testify.

"Justice has been done!" celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby's accusers, said on the courthouse steps. "We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed."

The district attorney became teary-eyed as he commended Constand for what he said was courage in coming forward. As Constand stood silently behind him in a bright white blazer, Steele apologized to her for a previous DA's decision in 2005 not to charge Cosby.

Cosby "was a man who had evaded this moment for far too long," Steele said. "He used his celebrity, he used his wealth, he used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes."

He added: "Now, we really know today who was really behind that act, who the real Bill Cosby was."

Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.

The fallout from the verdict was immediate: Bounce, a TV network that caters to black viewers, announced it would drop reruns of "The Cosby Show." And Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh revoked an honorary degree awarded in 2007.

Since Cosby's first trial, the #MeToo movement has taken down powerful men in rapid succession, among them Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey and Sen. Al Franken. During closing arguments, Cosby's lawyers slammed #MeToo, calling Cosby its victim and likening it to a witch hunt or a lynching.

Cosby's new defense team, led by Mesereau, the celebrity attorney who won an acquittal for Michael Jackson on child-molestation charges, launched a ferocious attack on Constand during the trial, calling her a "con artist" and "pathological liar" who framed Cosby to get rich.

Constand sued Cosby after prosecutors initially declined to file charges, settling with him for nearly $3.4 million over a decade ago.

Cosby's defense team derided the other accusers as home-wreckers and suggested they made up their stories in a bid for money and fame.


Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Dr. Christopher Tumpkin talks about spring allergies during an interview at his practice, Sioux City Allergy & Asthma Associates, in Sioux City. He predicts this season could be the worst Siouxland has seen in years due to a slow arriving spring.


Govt-and-politics
Woodbury County pushes Iowa DHS to rethink mental health ruling; mulls legal action

SIOUX CITY -- The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors are trying to convince the Iowa Department of Human Services to change its earlier decision that forbids the county from leaving a three-county mental health region and delivering services on its own in the next budget year.

"We believe there is language in the DHS administration policy which allows us an exception and we are working with DHS to agree to allow it, still within their rules and regulations," Woodbury County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rocky De Witt told the Journal Thursday.

De Witt warned the county could head to court if further negotiations prove unsuccessful.

"We are trying to avoid legal action,'' he said in a statement. "We feel that there is still an avenue within DHS and are working towards a solution in conjunction with DHS staff."

Last week, Supervisor Jeremy Taylor acknowledged the county has retained outside legal counsel as its considers its options for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Two weeks ago, DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven ruled the county can't leave the Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services group, which also includes Plymouth and Sioux counties, because state law prohibits mental health regions with two or fewer counties. Sioux Rivers was formed in 2014 after the state switched from a county-by-county to a regional mental health delivery system for people with disabilities and those who are low-income.

Woodbury County officials, who want to end their relationship with Plymouth and Sioux counties due to a series of disagreements over management of the group, are looking for a one-year stopgap until they are allowed to join the Rolling Hills mental health group.

The Rolling Hills board on March 7 voted to accept Woodbury as its eighth county to the mental health agency, but delayed the entry date to July 1, 2019. The admission still must be ratified by board of supervisors from at least four of the seven existing counties.

DHS officials said Woodbury, Plymouth and Sioux counties must remain in Sioux Rivers for fiscal 2018-2019 to "avoid disruptions and confusion for the individuals in their region." The state agency said that also gives Sioux and Plymouth counties "the opportunity to explore other options and put a plan in place" to add a replacement member by the time Woodbury would join Rolling Hills.

Taylor, the chief proponent on the Woodbury board for changing regions, has argued Sioux Rivers is not professionally run, and has spoken out against using funding for a program for at-risk students in the Sioux City School District. Specifically, he objected to the program provider, the Sanford Center in Sioux City, using counselors without the proper state certification.

Marty Pottebaum is the sole county supervisor to vote against severing ties with Sioux Rivers.

Rolling Hills includes Buena Vista, Sac, Calhoun, Carroll, Cherokee, Crawford and Ida counties. The Buena Vista and Cherokee boards voted last week to accept Woodbury County. Rolling Hills CEO Dawn Mentzer said she expects the county-by-county votes to be finished by May.


De Witt


Jerry Foxhoven


Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Taylor


Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Reynolds