The manager of the Spokane County fairgrounds was suspended for 10 days without pay Tuesday for sexually harassing a woman security guard under his supervision.
County commissioners doubled the punishment recommended by the human resources department, which investigated the allegations against Paul Gillingham.
“We need to send a message that sexual harassment won’t be tolerated in the county especially from a supervisory standpoint,” said Commissioner John Roskelley.
He said the county has 1,725 employees, and those employees need to know that they will be protected from on-thejob harassment.
“Obviously, there was a problem and we have to take that very seriously,” Roskelley said.
Gillingham will begin serving the suspension on June 10. It will cost him about $1,500 in lost pay.
Investigators found Gillingham created a hostile work environment for the employee, Carol Dionne, a part-time security guard, through surprise nighttime visits to the fairgrounds and conversations about his sex life.
Gillingham denied harassing Dionne after learning of the suspension Tuesday afternoon.
“I really feel like I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said, but he declined to talk about specifics of the case on the advice of his attorney.
Gillingham said he will take steps in the future to ensure his actions are not construed as harassment.
Attempts to reach Dionne on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
According to an investigative report, she kept a log of Gillingham’s actions, which included eight surprise visits to the fairgrounds while she was on duty in the middle of the night.
Investigators said that Dionne felt “intimidated” and “frightened” by Gillingham’s behavior and references to his sex life and a failed relationship with a former fiance.
Gillingham later tried to cut Dionne’s hours, the report said.
Dionne worked as a ticket taker at the Spokane Interstate Fair last September and then was hired as a security guard a short time later.
A security supervisor at the fairgrounds told investigators Gillingham expressed a desire to have Dionne hired as a guard even though she had no previous experience in security.
Gillingham last week said he felt he was being slandered and harassed.
He is the second county official in two months to be suspended. Risk Manager Claude Cox was suspended without pay for three days in May for lying during a county investigation into Cox’s hiring of a friend.