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David Bloys - News for Public Officials

View David Bloys's profile on LinkedIn



The first female district attorney in Sherman County has filed a workplace harassment lawsuit against the sheriff she investigated last year for fatally shooting the County Treasurer's son.

Sheriff Brad Lohrey shot and killed Cody Jack Childress, 23, during a standoff in March 2005 in Grass Valley when he and Oregon State Police Trooper Kaipo Raiser mistook a pair of binoculars for a gun.

The dead man was the son of the Sherman County treasurer, whose office was next door to Lohrey's on the first floor of the courthouse, according to an article in The Oregonian,

Tara Lawrence, 34, who lost her bid for re-election this spring after serving one term, isn't leaving without a parting shot at the man she says made her job impossible: Sheriff Brad Lohrey.

Lawrence was troubled by what she said was unprofessional conduct on the part of the sheriff during the grand jury proceedings. She said Lohrey watched the secret grand jury deliberations on the courthouse surveillance cameras. Lawrence also suspected the sheriff was coming into her office and tapping into her computer without permission.

Tara LawrenceLawrence claims in the suit filed in U.S. District Court that Lohrey and his deputy, Frank Rivera, conspired to "harass, obstruct, humiliate and intimidate" her personally and professionally during her tenure.

"I've been through pure hell out there in Sherman County," Lawrence told the Oregonian.

"It's a very good ol' boy county, and what the sheriff has tapped into . . . is if you do special favors and give special treatment to people with money and power . . . then they'll back you politically, and you'll stay sheriff forever."

Brad Lohrey grew up and attended school in Sherman County while his father, Gerald Lohrey, was the Sherman County Sheriff.

Sherman County spans 831 square miles in northern Oregon. It's home to 1900 residents.

In a small rural community with no city police, Lawrence said it's easy for a sheriff to wield power with no checks and balances.

In the shooing case, a Sherman County Grand Jury determined after three days of testimony,   that the shooting was justifiable and that "no crime was committed at the time peace officers used deadly physical force".

Lawrence said in April 2005 the sheriff promised to make her life miserable.

The lawsuit alleges that Lohrey continually withheld police reports and evidence from Lawrence that she needed to prosecute cases. It also alleges Lohrey intimidated Lawrence in part because she is a woman.

"I was afraid of him, and I don't think he would have said the same thing to a man," Lawrence said.

Last May, Lawrence was defeated by Wade M. McLeod. Lohrey's father -- former Sherman County Sheriff Gerald Lohrey -- was chairman of McLeod's campaign. McLeod said his candidacy had nothing to do with Lawrence and Brad Lohrey.

"If I just walk away, I feel like I'd be like a rape victim that didn't report a crime."

"If these guys could bully the district attorney, the chief law enforcement officer in the county they work in . . . then they can bully and intimidate any and everyone that comes in their path," Lawrence said.

Lawrence said she has consulted with a computer forensic expert who says the unauthorized computer access can be proved, and she's ready to take Lohrey on in court.

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