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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Ex-police spokeswoman at center of sexual harassment scandal resigns

Monique Cotton, the police spokeswoman who accused former police Chief Frank Straub of sexual harassment, resigned Monday from her job at Spokane City Hall.

“She said enough is enough,” said Bob Dunn, her attorney. “She’s tired of being a political pawn between the police department and the mayor’s office. Life is too short to be brutalized like this.”

Dunn said Cotton has not yet made a decision on whether to pursue legal action against the city but will in the near future.

“I hope she does,” Dunn added.

Last April, Cotton confronted Mayor David Condon and City Administrator Theresa Sanders with allegations of sexual harassment. Cotton said Straub had “grabbed her ass, tried to kiss her.” Cotton demanded a new job, and Condon transferred her to the communications position in the parks department with a $9,000 pay increase.

Cotton’s accusation has caused turmoil in city government: Straub was forced to resign, and subsequently filed a $4 million claim against the city; the former parks spokeswoman claims Cotton’s transfer effectively pushed her aside and also has filed a claim; the city’s ethics commission is taking up the issue; and an outside investigation is ongoing.

But it was her treatment by members of the park board that ultimately led to her resignation, Dunn said. When her accusations and job transfer were made public after public records releases, leaders of the city park board announced they would hold an open hiring process for Cotton’s position. During the process, park board president Chris Wright and Andy Dunau mistreated Cotton, Dunn said, and made clear their allegiance to the woman Cotton effectively replaced, Nancy Goodspeed.

“The park board was becoming a toxic environment,” Dunn said, adding that Wright and Dunau “resented being used. I guess they felt like Sanders and Condon did an end run around them.”

Dunn said Wright and Dunau “treated her like a second-class citizen” during meetings and throughout the open hiring process.

Wright is married to Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton. Calls to Wright and Dunau were not returned.

Dunn said Cotton is taking some time to be with family, but will make a decision in coming weeks whether to take legal action against the city.

“It just became an untenable working environment,” Dunn said. “She’s going to take a couple weeks off. And then we’re going to make a decision about whether the city of Spokane is going to see more of Monique Cotton.”

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