DA?UNDER?SCRUTINY

Umatilla County District Attorney Dean Gushwa holds up his right hand as he is sworn in by Circuit Court Judge Christopher Brauer Friday at the Umatilla County Courthouse in Pendleton. Gushwa is begining his first elected term as district attourney for Umatilla County. Gushwa was appointed as District Attourney last year by Gov. Ted Kulongoski after previous District Attourney Christopher Bruaer was elected Circuit Court Judge.

Umatilla County and the state of Oregon have been accused of failing to protect a county worker from alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse, according to a copy of a lawsuit notice the employee had Portland lawyer Thomas K. Doyle send to Umatilla County CounselDoug Olsen.

The accusation names District Attorney Dean Gushwa. He is on paid leave while the Department of Justice investigates accusations made by the employee to the Pendleton Police Department in August 2010.

Gushwa has denied the accusations.

“I deny it,” he told the East Oregonian last week. “That did not happen.”

Doyle, the employee’s attorney, said Gushwa subjected the woman to the abuse, both on and off duty during the course of two years.

In his letter he said, “... the County and the State have failed to protect (xxx) from this conduct and have condoned retaliation for the reporting of this conduct.”

The Herald does not usually report victims of sex crimes or those who report sex crimes.

Gushwa announced his leave from office on Aug. 26.

In spite of being out of office nearly three months, Gushwa said he has no intention of resigning.

“If I had done anything unlawful, I would resign,” Gushwa said. “I want to see the end of the investigation because I want to get back to work.”

The district attorney is a state official that receives most of his money from the state and a small stipend from the county. The deputy district attorney’s and the rest of the office staff, though, are county employees.

Gushwa has continued to draw a paycheck while on leave. He makes $7,363 a month in salary and receives almost $2,205 in monthly insurance and retirement benefits.

The DOJ has been running the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office since Gushwa stepped aside.

Umatilla County Commissioner Dennis Doherty said he met with officials in the Oregon Attorney General’s Office in Salem and came away feeling good about how the DA’s office is operating.

“They are working to leave the office in better condition than when they found it,” Doherty said.

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