March 17, 2010

Probe finds no sheriff misdeeds

DENNIS HOEY

— By

Staff Writer

An independent investigator has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support a complaint that Sagadahoc County Sheriff Mark Westrum inappropriately touched one of his employees.

Portland attorney Jonathan Goodman also concluded that the employee, former undercover drug agent Mark Damren, was not subject to retaliation at work, according to a statement issued by county commissioners late Friday. The alleged incident took place during a boat ride on the Kennebec River in August 2006.

Friday's statement came after an executive session Thursday where commissioners reviewed the findings in Goodman's 19-page investigative report. Linda McGill, the county's attorney, has advised commissioners that the report is not a public document, said County Administrator Pamela Corrigan.

Westrum said he was satisfied with Goodman's conclusion that there was no retaliation at work.

''As for the touching, it can't be substantiated because it never happened to begin with,'' Westrum said Friday.

In late February, commissioners hired Goodman, an attorney with a background in police internal affairs investigations, to look into Damren's allegation of sexual harassment.

Goodman spent the next several weeks examining ''indirect'' evidence and, according to commissioners, concluded ''that there was no reliable basis on which to determine whether or not the touching incident had occurred.''

Goodman pointed out that Damren and Westrum were alone on the boat. Damren alleges that Westrum touched him inappropriately on his inner thigh, according to his attorney, Michael Turndorf of Brunswick.

''There are only two people who know what happened on that boat,'' Turndorf said Friday.

Damren could not be reached Friday. He has recently been reassigned to work as a patrol deputy.

The investigation cost county taxpayers more than $10,000, according to Commissioner Crispin Connery.

''From my perspective, the whole thing has been tragic. Now we need to leave this investigation behind us and move on,'' Connery said.

Goodman also addressed some issues regarding management, supervision and professionalism within the sheriff's department, according to the commissioners' statement. Those issues will be addressed during an upcoming independent review of the department.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 386-0320 or at

dhoey@pressherald.com

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