Former Morton employee files lawsuit against city, former mayor and former police chief for alleged sexual harassment


A lawsuit filed by a former employee against the City of Morton, former Morton Mayor Dan Mortensen and disgraced former Morton Police Chief Roger Morningstar over alleged sexual harassment in the workplace is active in Lewis County Superior Court.

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 31, 2024, according to court records. A hearing had not been scheduled as of Thursday, May 16.

The employee, Jaime Fleming, ran the Morton Youth Mentoring Program from at least January 2021 through December 2023. The program partnered with the Morton Police Department to match kids ages 12 to 17 with adult mentors in the community.

Fleming was also elected to the Morton City Council in late 2021, serving from January to March 2022 before resigning.

Morningstar, who was hired as Morton’s police chief in 2016, resigned from the Morton Police Department in lieu of termination on June 2, 2023, after he failed a polygraph exam related to an internal investigation into allegations he sexually harassed fellow employees and citizens at both the Morton Police Department and his previous police jobs, lied on his application to the Morton Police Department, misused public funds, and mishandled an investigation into an attempted burglary by a registered sex offender, according to previous Chronicle reporting.

Before his resignation, he had been on administrative leave since the City of Morton opened its internal investigation on May 15.

The Washington state Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) filed a statement of charges stemming from its own investigation into the allegations on Oct. 2, 2023, and formally revoked Morningstar’s peace officer certification on Dec. 6, according to previous Chronicle reporting.

Mortensen was first elected mayor of Morton in 2016 after he retired as chief of police for the Morton Police Department. He lost his reelection bid to challenger Ricky M. Mead in November 2023.

Mead assumed the mayoral office in January 2024.

The lawsuit alleges that the City of Morton knew of “Morningstar’s workplace transgressions at other employers,” including his resignation from at least two positions due to sexual harassment claims, at the time of hiring, and alleges the city “failed to take meaningful steps to protect employees of the city and female residents of the City of Morton and failed to take action when it became aware that Morningstar made women working for the city and those living in the community (feel unsafe).”

More than 35 instances where Morningstar allegedly made sexually offensive comments or sexually harassed Fleming are detailed in the lawsuit, including times where he made repeated comments about her breasts, talked to her about “the sexual antics and conquests of his best friend,” commented to her about other women’s breasts, repeatedly asked her if she or her husband would engage in affairs, helped spread a false rumor that the two of them were having an affair, showed her “pictures on his phone of women he found attractive,” and made obscene hand gestures during conversations with her.

The lawsuit also details an August 2022 incident where Morningstar allegedly closed the doors behind her while she was alone with him in his office and “came up behind her and began to rub her shoulders.” The lawsuit states that Morningstar acted “without Fleming’s consent, permission or knowledge,” and when she tried to pull away, he allegedly “grabbed her arms and learned into her face … sat down and said, ‘You don’t need to be so tense, you just need to relax.’”

He allegedly proceeded to speak to her for two hours about his marriage and his sex life, repeatedly, stating “he needed an ‘outlet; and that he needed a woman.”

Morningstar allegedly made multiple comments to Fleming throughout the years she worked at the city about his sex life as an attempt “to get her to have sex with him.” The lawsuit states, “after these types of conversations, she would go home and cry due to his actions.”

There were also multiple incidents where Morningstar allegedly showed up at Fleming’s residence — once in October 2022 to “show her his Braveheart Halloween costume and volunteer that he had no underwear under his kilt because he wanted to be in character,” and multiple times between January and March 2023 to make inappropriate comments about Fleming’s breasts and volunteer information about an affair he was having with a different woman.

When Fleming filed a complaint with Mortensen in April 2023, Morningstar allegedly “parked in front of her house in an unmarked car for several hours each day in an effort to retaliate and intimidate Fleming,” according to the lawsuit.

Fleming reportedly advised Mortensen of Morningstar’s conduct, at which time Mortensen allegedly “admitted this was not the first complaint made about Police Chief Morningstar” and stated “some people are a little more sensitive than other people,” according to the lawsuit.

Over the course of its investigation, CJTC documented three reports of sexual harassment — including Fleming’s — by Morningstar while he was employed with the Morton Police Department. The other two reports came from a former officer with the Morton Police Department and a citizen who worked at a coffee shop that Morningstar frequented.

Multiple people CJTC interviewed during the investigation into Morningstar’s conduct in Morton indicated they knew more people who had been sexually harassed by Morningstar but would not come forward due to fear of repercussions, according to previous Chronicle reporting.

The Chronicle’s previous article on the CJTC investigation is accessible online at   

The lawsuit asks for the court to award Fleming “all economic damages and non-economic damages as will be proven at time of trial,” including attorney fees, prosecuting costs and “other and further relief as this court deems just and equitable.”

Fleming is being represented by J. Roderik Stephens of Synergistic Law.

All three defendants filed notices of appearance in March, according to court documents.

Attorney Amanda Gabrielle Butler has filed to represent both Mortensen and the City of Morton in the lawsuit. Morningstar is being represented by George Allen Mix and Michael George Sanders of Mix Sanders Thompson, PLCC, according to court documents.