Letter seeking $350K for ‘distress'

Lawsuit threatened over incident at Port Townsend pool

PORT TOWNSEND — A woman who was banned from Port Townsend’s Mountain View Pool following a confrontation with a transgender employee in July 2022 is threatening a lawsuit unless her lifetime ban is lifted.

Julie Jaman, now 82, was permanently banned from the pool after she confronted a transgender woman about her presence in the women’s locker room. The woman, Clementine Adams, was an employee of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, which operates the pool and was escorting children in the summer camp to the restroom. Adams was not wearing employee identification at the time.

After a confrontation with Adams and another staff member, Jaman was asked to leave the facility and later informed she was permanently banned from the pool for violating the YMCA’s code of conduct.

The incident garnered international press coverage and led to two large protests in downtown Port Townsend.

On Tuesday, the Virginia-based Center for American Liberty sent a letter to Port Townsend City Manager John Mauro, Kendra Rosenberg, an attorney with the law firm Kenyon Disend, and Olympic Peninsula YMCA CEO Wendy Bart alleging violations of state and federal laws and demanding restorative actions.

“To remedy the unlawful conduct against my client, I demand the following: (1) the City and the YMCA lift the ban against Jaman; (2) the City and the YMCA issue a formal apology to Jaman for their actions against her; and (3) the City and the YMCA pay Jaman the sum of $350,000 for her emotional distress arising out of the incident,” wrote Harmeet Dhillon, founder and CEO of CFAL.

The letter demands a response by Wednesday, March 27, at 5 p.m.

“If the City and YMCA fail to comply with this demand by that deadline, all options will be on the table, including the institution of legal proceedings in court,” the letter said.

In an email Thursday, Bart said the Y has no comment at this time. Representatives for the City of Port Townsend did not immediately respond to comment.

Former Port Townsend City Attorney Heidi Greenberg left that position March 15, and the city has hired Kenyon Disend for legal services.

CFAL Associate Counsel Eric Sell said Thursday the center had learned about Jaman’s case from their Washington state-based attorney.

“What the city did and what the Y did was pretty egregious,” Sell said. “In (city documents about the incident), they say that she had a history of documented code violations. As far as we can tell, that’s simply not true.”

Jaman said in 2022 she had never been notified of past code of conduct violations. She did not respond to request for comment Thursday.

In the letter, CFAL alleges the city and the YMCA violated Jaman’s First and 14th Amendment rights by banning her for using protected speech and denying her due process. The letter also alleges the city and the Y violated state law by publishing false and defamatory statements in print and online.

“This is government property,” Sell said of the Mountain View Pool, which is owned by the city and operated by the YMCA. “The constitution applies to government property.”

Sell said litigation would likely be filed in federal court due to the alleged constitutional violations.

The letter includes several hundred pages of emails between city and YMCA staff, a public relations firm regarding the incident and subsequent city meetings. After the incident, the city hired Seattle-based Feary public relations to help with a response to the situation.

Statements made by city officials, including statements by city council members on social media, “labeled Jaman as hateful and bigoted and indicated that she had engaged in a pattern of conduct that violated the YMCA’s policies,” the letter alleged. “None of this is true.”

A screenshot of a social media post from council member Libby Urner Wennstrom refers to those protesting the YMCA’s policies as “trans-haters” but makes no reference to Jaman specifically.

Sell said CFAL took up the case in order to protect citizens’ First Amendment rights against the government.

Center for American Liberty is a nonprofit legal center founded in 2018 by Dhillon, a California-based attorney and committeewoman with the Republican National Committee.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at peter.segall@peninsulanews.us.

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