July 30th, 2008 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Cops and Courts

JUICY SUITS: Bomb Dropped on KOIN: Allegations That Ed Whelan's Firing Was Discrimination, Reporter Kacey Montoya Posed For Sexy Photos

     
Tags: media


When Portland's KOIN 6 News changed ownership last year, speculation swirled in media circles about staff shakeups at the station.

Well hold onto your microphone, because new details have emerged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by former KOIN news director Jeff Alan. And it's a bombshell.

Among the allegations: That beloved long-time sports anchor Ed Whelan

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was fired due to discrimination by the new owner.

And that Alan's new bosses forced him to hire Kacey Montoya,

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a news reporter with a history of what the lawsuit calls "sexual, pornographic or otherwise inappropriate" modeling on the web.

According to the lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Alan's trouble started in April 2007, when Atlanta-based New Vision Television (NVT) began looking into buying KOIN from Montecito Broadcast Group.

At a July 2007 meeting in Portland, the lawsuit claims that Jason Elkin, CEO of NVT, insisted that Whelan be fired as a condition of NVT buying the station. Alan and Montecito President Sandra Benton objected, the lawsuit says, because Whelan "was a minority, was older and had recovered from a stroke." But the lawsuit says Elkin "angrily insisted."

At the same meeting, the lawsuit says that Elkin asked Alan, then 54, whether he was too old for his job, and made one other disparaging remark about Alan's age.

Whelan was fired on Aug. 20, according to Oregon Media Insiders. The lawsuit says Alan believed Whelan's firing was discriminatory, but it does not specify in what way.

The sale of the station was finalized on Nov. 1, 2007.

About a month afterward, Alan's new supervisor, Chris Sehring, told Alan to check out a resume tape from prospective news reporter Kacey Montoya, according to the lawsuit. Sehring told Alan that they "would probably be forced to hire her," the lawsuit says.

Alan objected to hiring Montoya on two grounds, the lawsuit says. First, he believed she was unqualified. And second, according to the lawsuit, "some quick internet searches" revealed that Montoya appeared "in inappropriate material" under the names Kacey Aliece and Kacey Bytheway.

You can view some of her material from an archived website here [NSFW], where she's described as a "lustful and curious blonde" who "loves teasing her viewers with her innocent but naughty schoolgirl sex appeal."

Bloggers revealed that Montoya's pictures were being sold on multiple erotic websites during her previous stint as morning news anchor at KPSP 2, a CBS affiliate in Palm Springs, Calif.

Montoya tells WW that before her days as a news reporter she worked as a swimsuit model. She says some of her photos were sold to the owners of various websites. She says she didn't find out they were being sold online until the 2005 blog post. She says she later had them taken down. Except for one small remnant, WW found samples of Montoya's modeling work only on archived websites.

Montoya declined to say whether her bosses at KOIN knew about her past work when they hired her. But she said it has been "an issue at every job I've gotten, every one where I got hired."

Montoya stressed that she doesn't regard the photos as erotica.

"I'm not a porn star. I was never a porn star," she says. "I never posed in any pictures with the intent that they would be put on an erotica site. This is not the kind of modeling that I did, and I would like it if you made that perfectly clear."

KOIN news director Lynn Heider stands by Montoya.

"I am proud of Kacey's work and the direction in which her career is headed," Heider wrote in an email to WW. "She's a team player and a hard worker. We hope to continue our professional relationship with Kacey."

According to the lawsuit, both Alan and Teresa Stedman, KOIN's human-resources director at the time, raised "significant objections" to hiring Montoya. Alan also objected to her salary, which the lawsuit says was set by Elkin at a higher rate than Alan had approved. Those objections were ignored, the lawsuit says.

On Jan. 24, 2008, Alan himself was fired after nearly two years spent as news director. According to the lawsuit, Sehring told him the "management wanted to go in a different direction."

The lawsuit, filed by Lake Oswego lawyers Craig Berne and Scott Snyder, claims Alan was fired due to age discrimination, out of retaliation for opposing Montoya's hiring, and out of retaliation for acting as a whistleblower on Whelan's firing.

The lawsuit seeks Alan's reinstatement as news director at KOIN at his agreed salary of $150,000 a year. He also asks for $1.4 million in economic damages plus $1 million for "emotional distress, humiliation, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish (and) loss of enjoyment of life."

The suit names New Vision Television and Elkin as defendants. Elkin has not yet returned a phone call seeking comment.

Read about more Juicy Suits here.
 
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