Friday, March 16, 2018

Former SFCC president Darren Pitcher exposed his genitalia and coerced sex from subordinates, attorney says

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 3:10 PM

click to enlarge Darren Pitcher, former SFCC acting president - COURTESY OF SFCC
Courtesy of SFCC
Darren Pitcher, former SFCC acting president

Before Darren Pitcher resigned last month as Spokane Falls Community College acting president, he was under investigation for allegations that include exposing his penis to a colleague and coercing sexual intercourse from subordinates, according to court records filed by an attorney for the alleged victims.

The description of the allegations come from an injunction request filed today in Spokane County Superior Court by attorney Nicholas Kovarik, who wants to prevent the names of the victims from being disclosed in public-records requests. It names the Inlander, Spokesman-Review and KXLY, all of which filed requests for the college's investigative records regarding the allegations against Pitcher.

Community Colleges of Spokane has not completed those requests. But according to the lawsuit filed today, the investigation into Pitcher's workplace behavior was initiated after a woman filed a complaint of sexual harassment and retaliation/discrimination on Jan. 16, 2018. The court records say she was "subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and retaliation" by Pitcher. It says she accused Pitcher of "exposing his penis" to her, "grooming her for a quid pro quo sexual encounter," and having "inappropriate sexual intercourse" with her.

"Her complaint relayed that she had sex with [Pitcher] two times and it was consensual, but she felt coerced and she felt like her job was at stake," Kovarik tells the Inlander.

Carolyn Casey, the college district spokeswoman, says the college has reviewed the court filing and can confirm that it accurately represents the allegations against Pitcher.

"This legal document is an accurate representation of either the original complaint or of other information that came to light during our investigation," Casey says. 

As part of the college's investigation, at least eight other people were interviewed about Pitcher's behavior. One woman said she was sent "instant messenger messages of a sexual nature" from Pitcher, according to court documents. The records say Pitcher displayed "numerous" sexually predatory behaviors and had multiple sexual relationships with subordinates. Those employees were often either promoted, fired or demoted depending on their response to his sexual advances, the documents say.

Pitcher resigned in the middle of the investigation into his behavior last month, before the college made any findings on the allegations. The college did not release any information about the nature of the sexual harassment allegations at the time.

In his resignation letter submitted Feb. 26, which has been obtained by the Inlander via a public-records request, Pitcher says, "I have not taken care of myself and have not invested enough of myself towards my family life. For the sake of my own well being I must submit my resignation effective immediately." He did not mention the investigation into his behavior.

Nancy Fair-Szofran, formerly Community Colleges of Spokane provost and chief learning officer, has served as president since his resignation. The college is continuing a nationwide search for a new leader.

Before the injunction request filed today, Kovarik contacted the media outlets who requested investigation documents this week concerned that the disclosure of his clients' names would expose them to retaliation from other employees. The Inlander generally does not name victims of alleged sexual assault or harassment without their permission, but Kovarik's injunction against the three media outlets and Community Colleges of Spokane aims to block victim names from being included in the records entirely.

He says disclosing the names in public records would prevent employees speaking out against harassment in the future.

"These individuals would not have given information or would have agreed to be interviewed had they known their names would be made public," the attorney's complaint says.

The injunction request adds that the witnesses interviewed remain concerned about retaliation from Pitcher.

"My clients are embarrassed and fearful of [Pitcher], even if he's resigned," Kovarik says. 

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione is the Inlander’s news editor. Aside from writing and editing investigative news stories, he enjoys hiking, watching basketball and spending time with his wife and cat.