Published: Sunday, September 27, 2009
Bylined to: Ashland Daily Tidings
Venezuela asylum-seeker Michael C. Ruppert fined for sexual harassment
Ashland Daily Tidings: The state labor board has ordered author and conspiracy theorist Michael C. Ruppert, to pay more than US$125,000 to a former female employee he was accused of sexually harassing.
State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, ordered the former Ashland businessman to pay Lindsay Gerken $2,713 in lost wages. Avakian then tagged on $125,000 in damages for the woman's mental and emotional suffering for an award of $127,713.
"(The Bureau of Labor and Industries) will not allow employers to ignore fundamental protections for workers' rights," Avakian said. "Sexual harassment of this magnitude is a brazen violation of the law and the damages ordered here will clearly show BOLI's commitment to aggressively enforcing the law." Whether Gerken can collect the money is unknown, as Ruppert owes other creditors and has left the state.
Avakian said Gerken was fired a week after Ruppert asked her to have a sexual relationship with him and she refused. The most startling incident occurred when Ruppert came to Gerken's office door "wearing only his underwear and a smile," according to a BOLI release. Gerken could not be reached for comment. In her complaint she said Rupert fired her after she refused his sexual advances, Avakian said.
Gerken said Ruppert's continuing pattern of harassment began shortly after she was hired. Gerken's award was for workplace harassment and retaliation she suffered during her less than three months of employment at Ruppert's company, From the Wilderness, Inc.
In an interview Thursday, Ruppert did not deny he presented himself to Gerken in his underwear. But he denies sexually harassing her. He said he fired Gerken for exhibiting disruptive behavior, poor work performance and wearing inappropriate clothing, he said. "I warned her and there were witnesses," Ruppert said.
Avakian noted that at the time of the harassment and retaliation, Gerken was just beginning her professional career. Ruppert was in his mid-50s. "At the trial it was evident that one person was telling the truth, and another was not," he said. "All of (Ruppert's) businesses have failed and creditors a mile long are after him."
Ruppert said he plans to appeal but said he does not have the money necessary to pursue an appeal. The well-known conspiracy theorist has written two books: 'Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil,' and 'A Presidential Energy policy.' A movie about Ruppert's theories, 'CoLLapse,' was premiered this month at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival.
Avakian said he rendered his decision based on an 84-page legal assessment of the case given to him by an administrative law judge who heard the case.
Michael C. Ruppert pictured in Plaza Altamira (Caracas)
Ruppert said he fled to Venezuela after leaving Ashland because he feared for his life after writing a series of articles that exposed a cover-up that former NFL player Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan was due to friendly fire,<
ruppert_optBY JOE TYRRELL
An Oregon official has upheld an administrative complaint of sexual harassment against Michael Ruppert, subject of the new documentary "Collapse."
Brad Avakian, commissioner of the state Bureau of Labor and Industries, found Ruppert committed egregious harassment of a one-time employee of his defunct investigative newsletter, Into the Wilderness, in 2006.
Avakian awarded Lindsay Gerken $2,713 in back wages, saying Ruppert fired her after she complained about his advances. The commissioner trumped that with $125,000 in damages for "emotional and mental suffering."
But it is unlikely that Gerken will collect, since hearing officer Allan McCollough ruled the business was disbanded and Ruppert as an individual is not liable as its successor. A bureau spokesman did not respond to a request for elaboration on Avakian's statement that the agency will "pursue every penny" of the fine.
The attention-getting penalty comes as Chris Smith's documentary on Ruppert, a former Los Angeles policeman who predicted the current economic downtown, is generating buzz at film festivals around the world. Ruppert argues that oil production has reached its peak and will steadily decline, with long-term implications for the global economy and short-term illustrations in military and foreign policy.
Among other things, Avakian cited testimony that one night while they were working late in their Ashland, Ore., office, Ruppert showed up at Gerken's door "wearing only his underwear and a smile." Gerken, a single mother just starting her career, was "shocked" and "frightened" by Ruppert's attentions during her three months on the job, according to the order.
"Sexual harassment of this magnitude is a brazen violation of the law and the damages ordered here will clearly show BOLI's commitment to aggressively enforcing the law," Avakian said.
In postings in his blog, Ruppert characterized the bureau's approach as malicious and said the findings "mischaracterized or ignored" evidence and testimony presented on his behalf. For example, the order calls one of Ruppert's witnesses "vain and boastful" because the man introduced himself using the honorific "Doctor" although his Ph.D. is in English literature.
Shortly after Gerken's firing, Ruppert's business was broken into and his computers destroyed, forcing him to halt publication.
Avakian noted that Ruppert initially blamed Gerken, but subsequently has suggested government agencies may be responsible because of his critical stories, particularly one revealing the "friendly fire" death of former NFL player Pat Tillman while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, though, Ashland police had ruled out Gerken as a suspect, and also cleared Ruppert of rumors that he staged the burglary. The case remains unsolved.
Ruppert said he hoped to file an appeal, but his financial difficulties may prevent it.
and Google Cache for same article
On December 12, 2009, the webmaster for mikeruppert.org received a letter written by an attorney on behalf of Mike Ruppert (MCR), addressed to the site’s host, requesting that said website be removed from the web for committing slanderous, harassing acts aimed at Mr. Ruppert. Of course mikeruppert.org does nothing more than re-print the written BOLI decision, of which Mike Ruppert was the losing respondent in September, 2009.
He and his followers believed and still believe that they are entitled to conceal the background of their methods from the public on grounds that anyone exposed ... (will be)... better that people unknowingly benefit than that they be told up front and risk being alienated.