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CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) — An employee of a coroner’s office in western Idaho is claiming she was harassed by the outgoing coroner.

Canyon County Deputy Coroner Lori LaRoche filed a notice of a tort claim earlier this month against Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris, seeking damages of at least $800,000 for the “personal and professional harassment” by her supervisor since 2011, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported Tuesday.

LaRoche claims DeGeus-Morris created an “exceedingly hostile work environment” that caused her medical problems and loss of benefits.

A notice of a tort claim is not a lawsuit, but states the claimant believes there is sufficient cause to sue.

DeGeus-Morris denied the allegations in a statement Tuesday.

“It is unfortunate that my name and reputation continue to be attacked by mere allegations and unsubstantiated claims,” DeGeus-Morris said. “But since I am bound by state law and my commitment to Canyon County’s best interests regarding personnel issues and threatened litigation, that is all I can say on the matter at this time.”

DeGeus-Morris lost her re-election bid for county coroner in the Republican primary last week. Jennifer Crawford, the former senior deputy coroner for the office, is expected to enter the office in January as no challengers have been declared for the November general election.

LaRoche’s notice also claims that DeGeus-Morris failed to properly respond to a sexual harassment complaint against an employee and that she required employees to work on her re-election campaign.

LaRoche’s claims will be forwarded to the county’s insurer for review, Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker said. A response will be issued if deemed necessary, he said.

“The assertions made by Ms. LaRoche in her notice of tort claim filed May 9 are merely allegations and nothing more,” Decker said.


Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune,