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Former Kootenai County deputy prosecutor claims age bias

A former deputy prosecutor in Kootenai County claims he was asked to take a psycho-sexual examination as part of a plot to get rid of him because of his age.

Kenneth Stone alleges Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh and the county discriminated against him based on his age when they fired him after asking him to undergo the test, as well as a lie-detector examination, amidst sexual harassment allegations.

Stone said he refused to take the exam, which he described as being “reserved for the heinous sexual predators,” at the advice of his lawyer because he didn’t want to be “personally traumatized or professionally stigmatized by baseless allegations that he is a sexual predator.”

Stone was fired on March 25, 2011. A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in May on behalf of Stone and his wife, Saviraj Grewal, seeks unspecified damages from McHugh, the prosecutor’s office and Kootenai County.

McHugh directed questions to Peter Erbland, lawyer for the county, who said the complaint is baseless.

“(Stone) was terminated because he violated the harassment policies of Kootenai County, and Kootenai County has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment,” Erbland said.

Stone said he told his supervisors he intended to retire when he became fully vested in the state retirement package in August 2011 “unless he so enjoyed his work that he would choose to remain employed for a longer period.”

He announced in October 2010 that he did not plan to retire and would continue working so long as he was able.

Stone believes that’s when the prosecutor’s office began looking for ways to get rid of him.

The 21-page complaint said Stone was fired based on a complaint from Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor and former candidate for Spokane County prosecutor Jim Reierson. Reierson accused Stone “of unwanted shoulder touching” on Jan. 12, 2011.

Stone said the prosecutor’s office hired an outside investigator to handle the allegations against him, which he said is further evidence of “arbitrary and capricious” treatment designed to force him to leave the office. He said he was not allowed to have an attorney represent him at his disciplinary hearing, which McHugh conducted.

Erbland said he’ll detail a pattern of sexual harassment committed by Stone in a formal response to the complaint, which he expects to file within the month.

“There is a history of this, and it will be detailed in the response,” Erbland said. “It’s a very detailed, long history.”

Erbland said Stone filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission in October alleging age discrimination but filed this complaint in federal court before the commission could rule.