In an odd coda to a harassment claim that rocked the Oregon Attorney General’s office last year, former senior assistant attorney general Heather Van Meter reported further claims against lawyer Marc Abrams, who leads employment litigation for the state.
As WW previously reported, Van Meter received a $190,000 settlement from the state in January after alleging Abrams harassed her. Van Meter’s claims from last year, which also accused DOJ’s chief trial lawyer Steve Lippold of workplace discrimination, culminated in an 83-page report that mostly cleared the lawyers of wrongdoing.
According to the new report, completed May 6 and attached as an addendum to the initial report, Van Meter in February provided the agency four names of women who she says had contacted her “about the conduct of Marc Abrams.” Investigator Lori Watson contacted all four—two of whom declined to be interviewed, and another who said she dated Abrams but did not describe any misconduct.
The fourth woman, a former law clerk at the DOJ, requested her name be kept confidential, the report says. “As such,” Watson wrote in the May 6 report, “information they provided is not able to be used in the investigation.”
The DOJ confirmed that it has not issued any discipline to Abrams stemming from the allegations.
“As to the addendum overall, I am pleased that, yet again, Ms. Van Meter’s allegations have been found to be unsubstantiated,” Abrams tells WW.
Watson wrote in the report that, during a virtual meeting on March 22, she told Abrams that she would not be pursuing the law clerk’s claims due to her request for confidentiality.
“I also told Mr. Abrams that when I followed up with each individual, two declined to be interviewed and another provided some information but asked that their name be kept confidential,” Watson wrote. “I told Mr. Abrams that my understanding was that the DOJ is not able to pursue claims or allegations without providing the complainant’s name to the respondent.”
Kristina Edmunson, spokeswoman for Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, says the agency cannot investigate confidential claims, “because the person being complained about does not have the ability to respond to an anonymous complaint.”
“We put this into the hands of the independent investigator and did not do a separate investigation,” Edmunson added.
(Disclosure: Rosenblum is married to the co-owner of WW’s parent company.)