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Ex-witness coordinator files lawsuit over her dismissal

A former victim witness coordinator says she was fired from the Utah County Attorney's Office after she complained about alleged mishandling of child abuse cases.

Teri L. Finch made the accusation Wednesday in a U.S. District Court lawsuit. She says her civil rights were violated, and she is seeking more than $6 million in damages.In the lawsuit, Finch says County Attorney Carlisle Kay Bryson, Chief Criminal Deputy Attorney Craig R. Madsen and others postponed hearings, entered into undisclosed plea bargains and generally neglected child sex abuse cases.

The suit also says families of the victims were left "totally in the dark" regarding the status of their cases and were treated rudely by county legal officials.

Bryson said he hadn't seen the suit as of Thursday morning and couldn't comment on the specific allegations, "but suffice it to say the facts as we see them are significantly different."

The county attorney also defended his office's handling of child abuse cases, saying it "absolutely" has done a good job.

Finch said she informed the Utah County Commission about her concerns about the office in August 1996 but nothing was done. Afterward, Finch said she "felt herself the target of threats and intimidation and was subjected to a hostile work environment."

A fellow employee who committed suicide during that time left a note complaining about the office's "callous disregard of the victims of crime," Finch said in her suit.

On Oct. 30, 1996, Finch was summoned to Madsen's office, where Madsen and Chief Civil Deputy Attorney E. Kent Sundberg "physically restrained her" and tried to force her to sign a letter of termination, the suit said.

Finch said she refused and returned to her own office. Madsen then summoned office security to escort her out of the building, the suit said.