PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Court of Appeals revived a lawsuit filed by the man who alerted police that the half brother of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had a collection of child pornography.
Edward McManus, the long-time personal assistant to James Auchincloss, went to police in 2008 with evidence that his boss had images of naked boys.
Following his arrest, Auchincloss learned of McManus' role in the investigation. He fired McManus and barred him from returning to an Ashland property to retrieve some possessions.
McManus responded with a $1.5 million lawsuit, claiming he was protected by whistleblower laws and wrongly fired.
A Jackson County judge granted a summary judgment in favor of Auchincloss on claims of wrongful discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Auchincloss' attorney argued that the private employee was ineligible for protections under whistleblower laws.
The Appeals Court reversed that decision Wednesday, returning the case to Jackson County.
"The public policy of the state of Oregon encourages all employees with a good-faith belief that their employer has committed a crime involving child abuse to report that belief to law enforcement," Judge James Egan wrote in the opinion.
Moreover, Egan wrote that Auchincloss knew McManus had been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and a jury might find that the presence of child pornography in the workplace was an intentional infliction of emotional distress.
McManus' attorney, Jeff Campbell, was out sick Thursday and could not be reached for comment. The attorney for Auchincloss, Tracy McGovern, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Auchincloss pleaded guilty in 2010 to encouraging child sexual abuse and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
McManus's duties included cooking, laundry, housecleaning, yard work and other tasks. One job was to review Auchincloss' email and sort "spam" from the more important messages. He first became aware of the child pornography after clicking on a link to see if it was spam. He said he later found other sexual depictions of children as he performed routine tasks.
An heir to a wealthy family that made a fortune in oil and financing, Auchincloss moved from Washington, D.C., to southern Oregon in the mid-1990s.