A former supervisor at a Tri-City wireless store will spend six months in jail for telling an employee she had to have sex with him to keep her job.
Russell L. Meyer, 41, offered to give the woman a ride to her car after work one day in February 2015.
But instead of stopping, he kept driving to his Richland home and said her only option to save her job was to go inside and “fool around for a little while,” according to court documents.
The woman, who was in her early 20s, told him it was wrong for her and for Meyer’s family, but reluctantly agreed on the condition that they wouldn’t have sex, documents said. She told authorities she became very uncomfortable as Meyer undressed her and things progressed to sex.
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A friend encouraged her to contact Richland police a few days later.
Meyer pleaded guilty in March in Benton County Superior Court to second-degree extortion with sexual motivation.
On Thursday, he was sentenced under the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative, which involves at least three years of sexual deviancy counseling.
The standard range for second-degree extortion is one to three months in county jail.
However, the special allegation of sexual motivation added one year to the term.
Judge Bruce Spanner sentenced Meyer to one year and two months, but suspended all but six months of it on the condition he completes his treatment.
Spanner denied a request that Meyer be allowed to serve the time on work release.
Meyer, who was fired from U.S. Cellular after the incident, told the judge he is employed by his wife to look after their children. Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor said he argued against that request because he did not think it was in good faith.
Meyer has until Aug. 22 to report to the Benton County jail.
In his plea, Meyer said he knowingly obtained “sexual favors by a wrongful threat that communicated indirectly an intent to cause to do harm to the financial or business condition of (the woman) for the purpose of sexual gratification.”
Meyer told the woman that his own boss was “willing to cut the strings” with her employment because she was still in a 90-day review period. Meyer then said he would “go to bat” for her, court documents said.
The woman responded that she understood and would do a better job, but Meyer, who in the meantime had driven to his house, said she had to give him something in return, documents said.
“He is a disgrace to mankind and I out of all people thought I would never have to deal with this,” the woman wrote the court about being sexually violated. “It is extremely hard for me to trust anyone these days. … I feel it has changed me to where I naturally guard myself nowadays in even the things I say.”
The woman said she had hoped to have a career with the cellular company because she is “a tech geek.”
Meyer has another active case in Benton County Superior Court for indecent exposure to someone under age 14.
Prosecutors allege that in January 2014, Meyer was helping another family by giving their daughter a ride home from school.
The girl reported that when she got into Meyer’s car, he was wearing mesh gym shorts and was exposing himself. It made her uncomfortable so she turned away, the girl told authorities.
A short time later at a stoplight, she glanced over and saw Meyer now was covered up, court documents said.
Meyer, when confronted by the girl’s mother, said he had been playing basketball before picking up the girl, was sweaty and had “rearranged himself,” documents said.
He told investigators that “there was no incident” because nothing happened.
Prosecutors originally declined to file a charge. But then, during an investigation on another matter, a woman who doesn’t know this girl or her family allegedly told police Meyer had once picked her up from work without any pants or underwear.
His trial in that case is set for Sept. 6.