Legal experts: Lawsuit could mean mounting evidence for Woodway city manager

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There are still lots of questions surrounding the sexual harassment lawsuit against city manager Yost Zakhary and the City of Woodway. 

Zakhary faces this lawsuit a week after resigning from the Director of Public Safety position after serving over two decades. 

Now, Zakhary’s city manager position is on the line with another Council meeting expected to take place this Friday to further discuss his future. 

FOX44 digged into Zakhary’s past and found another lawsuit dating back to 2010. 

Former city employee Karen O’Bric sued the City of Woodway, accusing Yost Zakhary of numerous things. 

According to her husband Michael O’Bric, the allegations included harassment and discrimination – but nothing of a sexual nature. 

A former lawyer of O’Bric says a settlement reached in 2011, but he could not discuss anything further due to confidentiality. 

Legal experts say the current sexual harassment lawsuit is a big deal, especially when it’s against a city leader. In the end, it could cost the city and Zakhary a lot of money. 

FOX44 obtained a copy of the ten-page sexual harassment filing, which details multiple occasions accusing city manager Yost Zakhary of making sexual comments to dispatcher Sandra Bickel. 

The lawsuit claims in September 2017, Zakhary told Bickel to enlarge the size of her breasts for his own sexual gratification. 

In that same month, court documents show Zakhary “pulled her pony tail multiple times, jerking her head back and forth in an effort to simulate a sex act.”

Legal expert Michelle Tuegel, who is not involved in the case, says these allegations put the city in hot water. 

“So that’s a situation where the city could be held liable. They could face potentially having to face damages in this case, and the actual person who has been accused and sued could also face paying potential damages himself,” said Tuegel. 

Bickels lawyers say it’s not only her. Multiple women accuse Zakhary of similar allegations. Some current and other former employees of the city are setting this case up for a long road ahead. 

“It depends on how severe it was. How prolonged. Whether or not there was retaliation on top of the actual harassment,” said Tuegel. 

Tuegel says if they do reach a settlement, money could come out of taxpayers’ wallets. 

“There might be some sort of insurance policy the city has, but depending on the amount of damages, if there was ever a judgment. I think the city could be on the hook for it, and so could the defendant himself,” said Tuegel. 

FOX44 reached out to Zakhary’s wife, but she declined to comment. 

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