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Humane Society director resigns

Kitsap Humane Society Executive Director Winton Read resigned from his post of two years on Aug. 7, according the agency’s board members.

Board President Judy Davey declined to comment further on Read’s resignation, but did say his departure had nothing to do with a pending lawsuit against the agency.

A former Kitsap Humane Society employee filed a lawsuit against the agency in May, claiming she was sexually harassed, discriminated against and retaliated against for reporting the alleged incident.

Lorrie Kalmbach-Ehlers filed the civil suit against the 92-hear-old agency in Kitsap County Superior Court. She seeks lost wages and benefits as well as a settlement for emotional distress and damages.

In the suit, Ehlers claims Read sexually harassed her in late December and when she reported the incident to her supervisor, four other women made similar complaints against Read.

Davey, a Port Orchard real estate executive, said Read voluntarily turned in a letter of resignation to the five-member executive committee.

A search was immediately launched for a replacement director; advertisements were published and applications are to be accepted through Sept. 1, Davey said.

In the interim, business manager Joan Randolph will serve as the acting executive director for the nonprofit agency, located on Dickey Road near Silverdale.

“We’re hoping to fill that position soon,” said Dana Lerma, an agency spokeswoman. “But for now, we’re secure and everything is fine because we have so many people who’ve been here for so long and everybody knows their job.”

Kalmbach-Ehlers is the only plaintiff named in the suit. She was fired from the Humane Society in March.

On June 7, the agency filed its answer to the lawsuit’s claims in Superior Court. The document, crafted by Seattle law firm Bullivant Houser Bailey, denies the Kalmbach-Ehlers’ claims.

A full investigation was conducted while Read was placed on administrative leave, afterwhich investigators concluded there had been no sexual harassment. Read was reinstated in February.

Humane Society organizers are gearing up for the largest fund-raising event the agency hosts during the year — Animal Krackers, a gala-auction-dinner.

The event will be held on Oct. 26 at the Kitsap Golf and Country Club near Chico.

Proceeds go toward the care of more than 10,000 pets sheltered by the Humane Society every year.

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