- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. (AP) - Junction City’s police chief has sued the city and the former city administrator in federal court, alleging his due-process and other rights were violated when he was placed on leave for more than five months last year.

Mark Chase filed a lawsuit in federal court in Eugene last week seeking at least $300,000 in damages, The Register-Guard reported (https://is.gd/Jg5u2I).

His lawsuit says that former City Administrator Melissa Bowers discriminated against him because of his Christian beliefs and violated his due-process rights when she placed him on leave without a valid reason. The lawsuit also says she misrepresented information about Chase to the City Council to an effort to force him to resign.

Bowers could not be reached for comment, the newspaper reported. A listed number for her could not be found, and an email sent by The Associated Press on Sunday afternoon was not immediately returned.

Last July, Bowers placed Chase on administrative leave for more than five months while officials investigated Chase and the department. He returned to his job in February. Bowers resigned shortly thereafter, citing personal reasons.

The current city administrator, Jason Knope, and Chase’s attorney, Sean Riddell of Portland, also declined comment to the newspaper.

In his lawsuit, Chase says that Bowers asked him in March 2014 whether he received direct communication from God that guides him in his leadership decisions. Chase told Bowers he is a man of faith, but he felt her questioning was improper.

He also said that she allegedly asked how he balanced his religious beliefs with his responsibilities as police chief.

Neither Bowers nor the city has yet responded in court to the lawsuit.

Chase has been working in Junction City since 2009. He previously worked at the Salem Police Department.


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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