Yakima City Council member granted emergency protection order against fellow council member
'The enabler of abuse is silence — I will not be silenced'
YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima County District Court judge issued a temporary anti-harassment protection order Monday against a Yakima City Council member accused of sending a man to threaten another council member.
According to a statement issued by council member Soneya Lund, she has been repeatedly harassed by fellow council member Jason White and decided to file for a temporary protection order after a confrontation with a man claiming to have been sent by White.
Lund said the man approached her in the parking lot outside her Yakima business and told her, “Jason sent me, you need to be put in your place.”
“I am in fear for not only my safety and the safety of my small child, but for any women who may not agree 100% with his agenda,” Lund said. “I am now convinced that until addressed, this behavior will continue to escalate.”
In an interview Wednesday with KAPP-KVEW, White denied any involvement with the incident and denied the allegations within Lund’s petition for the temporary anti-harassment protection order.
“It’s all fabricated,” White said, adding that he encourages community members to reach out to their council members to share their concerns, but has not directed anyone to harass or intimidate Lund.
The reported confrontation occurred soon after White made personal attacks and allegations against Lund in a July 6 council meeting and made an unsuccessful motion to censure her.
In her statement, Lund said White has made false claims against her on social media and in council meetings and posted video of a phone conversation between her and White where she was not aware she was being recorded.
“This is not about politics, the business of the city, partnerships, or the will of the voters,” Lund said. “This is about fear and intimidation.”
The temporary anti-harassment protection order prohibits White from contacting Lund directly or through a third party and from being in close proximity to her for two weeks. In Washington state, protection orders can be obtained for stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, and unlawful harassment.
In order to obtain a temporary anti-harassment protection order, the petitioner must have, “reasonable proof of unlawful harassment of the petitioner by the respondent and that great or irreparable harm will result to the petitioner if the temporary antiharassment protection order is not granted.”
“The person who’s wanting the protection order will need to show two instances of a person harassing them, you know, maybe following them, cursing at them, causing some sort of disruption by phone, social media, or in person,” Yakima County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Casey Schilperoort said.
“Sometimes people get harassment orders when another person is harassing them at work, causing a disruption, not only to their lives but the lives of the people that they work with,” Schilperoort said.
An emergency temporary order is valid for up to two weeks, at which point a court hearing will take place for the judge to determine whether to deny the petition or to grant a protection order, which in most cases is effective for up to a year.
While a protection order prohibits the respondent from contacting and being around the victim, it doesn’t prevent them from violating the order, which Schilperoort said is a daily occurrence.
“Absolutely every day. Some people say, ‘Okay, you know, the judge says I should stay away from this person and I will leave them alone,'” Schilperoort said. “There’s other people who are in the mindset of, ‘This is only a piece of paper. I’m not going to get in that much trouble. I’m willing to continue to harass this person.'”
Violating a protection order is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. Schilperoort said the penalties add up with each continued order violation and after the third strike, can result in a felony charge.
“Anti-harassment orders are civil in nature; however, the penalties for violating the order are criminal in nature,” Schilperoort said.
A hearing is set for Aug. 2 in Yakima County District Court for the judge to determine whether to extend the temporary anti-harassment protection order for a longer period of time or to deny Lund’s petition.
“The enabler of abuse is silence — I will not be silenced,” Lund said. “I entered public service to give a voice to those who do not have one. Trying to rise above and go back to work is not enough — if for no other reason, to let other victims know they are not alone.”
If you believe you may be a victim of harassment and are interested in obtaining a temporary anti-harassment protection order, the necessary forms are available here. The filing fee is $83, but if you cannot afford the fee, you can apply for a waiver here.
You can also pick up a packet in person from the court location at 128 N. 2nd St. Room 217 in Yakima or 1313 W. Wine Country Rd. in Grandview. You will need photo identification. Ex parte hearings are at 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday in Yakima and 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in Grandview. Completed petitions must be received by 11 a.m. in order to be heard that same day.
More information about anti-harassment protection orders in Yakima County can be found here.
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