- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Port of Portland firefighter told investigators that he called a co-worker’s hotel room about 2 a.m. during a training trip in Texas, went to her room with beer, gave her one of his prescription Ambien pills, then had sex with her.

Shortly after the group returned to Portland last fall, the female firefighter reported to Port officials and police in Texas that firefighter Jason McCann had sexually assaulted her.

She also went to a hospital in Clackamas County to have a sexual assault exam done, according to more than 300 pages of Port of Portland investigative records released in response to a public records request.

This spring, the Port paid $325,000 to McCann’s colleague to settle her workers’ compensation claim stemming from the alleged assault and then fired McCann in August for violating Port workplace policy.

The Port’s internal investigation didn’t conclude that a sexual assault had occurred, but a grand jury in Tarrant County, Texas, indicted McCann on Aug. 12 on a single count of sexual assault in connection with the hotel encounter.

The co-worker, in a Facebook post included in the Port’s records, said she had served 10 years with the Port of Portland Fire Department and had hoped to become the first female firefighter to retire from the agency. Instead, she resigned.

“Now I never want to go back, it has destroyed my trust in the men I work with and made me hate my job,” she wrote.

Her attorney, Katelyn Oldham, declined any comment.

McCann contends he has been falsely accused of a crime. The Ambien was for him to help him sleep, but he gave her the pill when she asked him what it was and asked if she could have it, he said.

“Two adults had consensual sex. One came back and changed their mind and turned it into this,” McCann, 38, said in an interview Monday.

The Port’s investigators wrote that they couldn’t find by a preponderance of evidence that McCann sexually assaulted his co-worker because they had no independent witnesses.

The alleged assault occurred Sept. 29 at the Hilton DFW Lakes in Grapevine, Texas. Thirteen Port employees were there for a regional training required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Port found that McCann got the woman’s room number from the front desk, called her about 2 a.m. and suggested watching a movie in her room. He brought two beers and the Ambien. He gave her the drug, knowing that she had consumed alcohol earlier in the night, investigators said. McCann acknowledged having sex with her, knowing that she was married to a battalion chief who was not on the trip, according to the reports.

His co-worker, now 39, said McCann came to her room even though she told him that she was in bed and didn’t want to get up. She called her lieutenant in the meantime, saying she needed him to come and watch a movie in her room because she didn’t want to be alone with McCann. The lieutenant was surprised by the late call, but didn’t detect any distress and begged off, the reports indicate.

The co-worker said she left her door unlatched and McCann entered as she was on the phone with her lieutenant. McCann remembers it differently, saying she let him in, according to the Port records.

The last thing she remembered was lying down on the bed fully clothed while McCann sat in a nearby chair, the documents said. When she awoke later that morning, McCann was sleeping in the bed.

There’s no dispute that she ingested a full Ambien pill that McCann gave her. She had no recollection of having sex with McCann, but McCann described the woman as engaged, responsive and participating in the sex, according to the Port’s records.

Of the Ambien, McCann said, “I didn’t go down there with the intention of drugging her. To me, it was like giving somebody an Advil. At no time was anybody unconscious.”

The Port’s investigative records include Food and Drug Administration articles on Ambien, which warn that the drug, if taken with alcohol or other medicines, could make a person sleepy, eat more, or have sex without remembering.

The Port’s investigation also found that McCann, on a training trip three years earlier, had knocked on the hotel room doors of two female co-workers late at night, asking to “snuggle” with them. Each woman refused to let him in. One was the firefighter he’s now accused of sexually assaulting.

McCann told investigators that he had been locked out of his room when he made the snuggling attempts, and it became a firehouse joke. “I’m an up late guy - insomnia,’ he said.

When the Port began its internal investigation, McCann, at his lawyer’s recommendation, refused to answer questions during two scheduled interviews with Port human resource investigators, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. As a result, the Port suspended him without pay for insubordination. By late June, McCann agreed to be interviewed, convinced no criminal charges would be brought against him, he said.

On Aug. 17, five days after he was indicted, Port officials fired him, citing violations of the Port’s Fair Treatment and drug policies.

At that meeting, McCann said he presented findings from a polygraph test that he had done in November. The results show he was being truthful when he answered that his co-worker had voluntarily performed oral sex on him and was fully awake at the time, according to a copy of the polygraph.

McCann is due in court in Tarrant County, Texas, on Nov. 13. The Portland Firefighters Association has filed a grievance, challenging McCann’s firing.


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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