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KHQ faces suit in firing

December 8, 2000

Former news anchor Randy Shaw claims `attempt to destroy him’

By Kevin Blocker
The Spokesman-Review

Deposed KHQ-6 anchor Randy Shaw was the victim of an orchestrated coup led by the president and news director of the station, according to a complaint for damages filed by Shaw’s attorneys in Spokane County Superior Court on Wednesday.

“Shaw was devastated by the lengths to which management was willing to go to attempt to destroy him,” the complaint says.

Shaw, probably the most popular television newscaster in Spokane, was fired by KHQ one month ago. The 53-year-old Shaw had been an anchor at the station for more than 17 years.

His termination came a month after former co-anchor Penny Daniels asked to be let out of her contract and left the station.

KHQ President Lon Lee declined to comment about the complaint.

Shaw’s attorneys also want the court to order KHQ to produce a litany of documents they believe will help their client.

They want to review all written complaints against him by Shaw’s former co-workers, including Daniels.

The complaint alleges that problems arose in 1998 when the station demoted former anchor Debra Wilde and replaced her with Daniels in April of that year.

Other documents Shaw’s attorneys are asking KHQ to produce are:

•Those that reflect complaints by employees regarding Daniels and her reporting on former Spokane Police Chief Alan Chertok while she was dating him.

•Documents that address the outcome of the sexual harassment complaint by Lee against Wilde. (Wilde’s attorney, Craig Mossman, said the complaint arose from an incident at a company Christmas party in which Wilde hugged Lee in a platonic manner.)

•Documents regarding the Cowles family involvement in the issue of complaints by employees regarding Lee. The Cowles family owns KHQ and The Spokesman-Review.

•Copies of all e-mail from viewers regarding Shaw during the last 10 years and copies of all e-mail from viewers regarding Daniels during the last three years.

The detailed complaint said Shaw tried to make Daniels’ transition a smooth one when she replaced Wilde.

But in October 1998, Shaw was approached by “several employees” concerning Daniels and her failure to do “certain aspects of her job,” the complaint said.

Shaw took their concerns to news director Patricia McCrae, who called him into a meeting with Daniels, the complaint says.

“At that meeting, Daniels verbally attacked Shaw in a way he had never experienced in his prior work history,” alleges the complaint.

Two months later, Lee and McCrae told Shaw that he was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint and he was suspended, the complaint says. Shaw alleges that Lee and McCrae attempted to build a case against him and failed, admitting later that no harassment complaint had been filed.

McCrae “specifically admitted that she had been the one who started the process,” the complaint said.

Within days, McCrae told Shaw that “he would be watched” and would be subject to discipline, according to the complaint.

McCrae could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Then, on Sept. 8 this year, Lee and McCrae told Shaw that Daniels had filed a harassment/sexual discrimination complaint against him, the complaint said. Daniels left shortly thereafter, and Shaw was fired Nov. 8.

Daniels had not seen a copy of the complaint and declined comment Thursday.

“There are a lot of things I would like to say, but I am constrained on advice of counsel to have no comment at this time,” Daniels said.

Neither Shaw nor his attorney, Ross White, could be reached for comment Thursday.

The complaint alleges the discontent between Shaw and Lee dates to the early 1990s, when KHQ hired Lee as president and general manager of the station.

Shaw said he and Wilde approached station owners to discuss complaints about Lee, and that they were forced to meet with Lee to discuss the concerns. Shaw alleges Lee approached him in a “threatening manner” and “indicated he would not forget about Shaw’s role in the incident.”

Friday, December 8, 2000

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From → KHQ

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