Probation Officer Who Reported Sexual Assault Accuses County of Retaliation

She says the county forced her to take a demotion after she alleged sexual violence by a co-worker.

Sculpture at east end of Hawthorne Bridge, next to Multnomah County headquarters. (Vivian Johnson)

A Multnomah County probation officer has filed suit against her employer, the county’s Department of Community Justice, alleging gender discrimination and retaliation.

According to the complaint, filed in federal court Aug. 28, the officer, Holly Fischer, was “treated like a perpetrator” after accusing a co-worker, her boyfriend at the time, of sodomizing her without her consent on St. Patrick’s Day 2017. The co-worker, Kevin Novinger, claimed the act never happened, and prosecutors declined to press charges.

WW reported the allegation last year after the county concluded Novinger was lying about what happened that night (“The Odd Squad,” WW, Aug. 10, 2022).

Fischer’s lawsuit alleges what happened next. She says she was forced to take a demotion in 2019 after making two errors during firearms training. The county subsequently forwarded “ninety pages of email communications and allegations of misconduct” to a psychologist, who ruled her unfit for service.

The ruling was overturned after another psychologist found the emails “were consistent with an individual processing a traumatic event” and that the first doctor had assumed the assault didn’t occur. Fischer returned to her job as a probation officer in December 2021, although she continues to be the subject of “negative gossip” and “unfounded oral reprimands,” according to the complaint.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries has already dismissed multiple complaints by Fischer regarding her treatment by the county. The county did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

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