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Former assessor Kaufman’s lawsuit dismissed

Former Loudoun County Assessor Todd Kaufman’s lawsuit against 19 current or former county employees was dismissed Monday in Loudoun County Circuit Court, an official for the court confirmed.

Visiting Circuit Court Judge R. Terrence Ney of Fairfax dismissed the case, filed by Kaufman in July 2012 and expanded a month later.

Ney could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and his written opinion was not yet available for public viewing.

After being placed on paid administrative leave in April 2012 – and following numerous closed-door discussions on the issue from the Board of Supervisors, which hires the assessor – Kaufman was fired in June last year.

On July 7, Kaufman filed a lawsuit claiming defamation of character against County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, County Attorney John Roberts and John Nelson, the supervising appraiser of the commercial division in the county assessor’s office. James Cross, an attorney with Crossroads Mediation Services in Manassas, was also listed as a defendant.

Cross, who conducted an investigation of Kaufman’s work after the assessor had been placed on leave, declined to comment on the case Monday.

Kaufman’s suit ended up bringing to light allegations against the former assessor, including complaints of sexual harassment, sexism, religious insensitivity, a hostile work environment, workplace violence and misuse of county equipment.

Kaufman denied the allegations, which he said was a conspiracy by Nelson, the disgruntled employee, to get him fired. The former assessor then requested a jury trial to resolve the issue, which Ney dismissed.

Peter Coehen, an attorney representing Kaufman, in July said: “The allegations speak for themselves. [Kaufman] was hired to do a job and he did it. He created a county assessor’s office that is now one of the best in Virginia. Mr. Kaufman feels strongly about how the county officials handled the situation and feels they should be held accountable for it.”

Per terms of Kaufman’s employment agreement – which was received by the Times-Mirror through a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request – in the event he was terminated by the Board of Supervisors at a time when he was willing and able to perform his duties, the board would provide him a lump sum cash payment equal to nine months of annual compensation, plus accumulated personal and annual leave. Kaufman was slated to earn a nearly $150,000 salary in 2012.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) did not provide any details in June relating to Kaufman’s release.

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