Port Angeles employee who claimed prosecutor sexually harassed her to receive $350,000

Tina Hendrickson claimed her former boss, Clallam County Prosecutor Mark Nichols, violated her civil rights when she was his office manager.

According to a federal complaint filed in 2017, "Nichols made romantic and sexual overtures" regularly telling Hendrickson "that he was deeply in love with her" and that he would not let her "leave her office until she had given him a hug."

“It happened all the time,” Hendrickson told KIRO 7 in an interview earlier this year.  “It just didn’t matter how many times I said ‘no.’”

The trial was originally scheduled to start in US District Court in Tacoma on October 16, 2018.

However, Nichols' lawyer Suzanne Michael asked a judge to have it continued "to a date after November 9th” in part because the trial dates "immediately precede the 2018 general election, during which the defendant has extremely limited availability due to his obligations as an elected public official" according to court documents.

Michael told KIRO 7, she also had another trial scheduled for that time, so the delay was granted and Nichols’ trial was rescheduled for December 11th.

While waiting for his day in federal court, Nichols was re-elected.

On Monday, Hendrickson’s attorney Terry Venneberg told KIRO 7 a settlement had been reached.

According to the settlement agreement and release provided by Venneberg, Hendrickson will receive $350,000.  Venneberg released a statement on his client’s behalf saying that “Ms. Hendrickson is pleased the case is resolved, and believes the amount of the settlement illustrates both the seriousness of the conduct involved, and the harm done as a result of Mr. Nichols' actions."

Meanwhile, Nichols is quoted as saying "I have always denied any wrongdoing and was fully prepared to defend myself in Court," according to a statement released Tuesday by Linda Kelly of The Connections Group in Seattle.

The statement released on Nichols’ behalf points out the settlement is "no admission of any fault by Mr. Nichols, consistent with the findings of the independent investigator."

See Nichols' full statement below:

Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols and his former office manager, Tina Hendrickson, have agreed to a settlement of disputed allegations of harassment by Tina Hendrickson.

According to Mr. Nichols, “I have always denied any wrongdoing and was fully prepared to defend myself in Court. When the charges were filed, an independent investigator was retained. The independent investigator, Ms. Robin Nielsen, concluded that I did not violate any legal standards. The case was proceeding to a December 11th trial date when the Court ordered the parties to a settlement conference. A settlement was reached, with the risk pool fully funding the settlement."

“Consequently, the matter will not be proceeding to trial despite the fact that we were fully prepared and confident in our case”, Mr. Nichols said.

Notably, the plaintiff agreed that the settlement is no admission of any fault by Mr. Nichols, consistent with the findings of the independent investigator.  Anyone who has questions about the facts of this case is encouraged to obtain a copy of the independent investigator's report.

Mr. Nichols was recently re-elected to his second term as Clallam County Prosecutor, winning the post by more than 16% in the general election against his challenger.

"Ensuring public safety has always been my top priority,” he said.  “The settlement of this unfortunate matter allows me to move forward with a continued focus on serving the people of Clallam County."

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