Alleged bike trail saboteur retains job as county psychiatrist

Jackson County will continue to employ a psychiatrist who reportedly admitted to sabotaging Ashland mountain biking trails, at least until after the investigation is over, County Administrator Danny Jordan said today.

Jordan said the allegations against Mental Health Department psychiatrist Jackson Tyler Dempsey do not make him unfit for his job, and, as of today, he still has a license with the state to practice medicine.

"He's afforded due process," said Jordan. "At this point, he's still a licensed psychiatrist."

Dempsey, 57, admitted in July to putting nylon cord, nails and vegetation along mountain biking trails in the Ashland watershed on numerous occasions because he "did not like downhill mountain bikers," according to a report from the U.S. Forest Service.

He was charged with fourth-degree assault and three counts of reckless endangerment and is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 29.

Because Dempsey's alleged crimes weren't committed while he was at work for the county, he will continue to work for the Mental Health Department, Jordan said.

"He's not allegedly charged with something that happened during the course of work," Jordan said.

Dempsey will remain in his position as a psychiatrist while the case is open, although the county had the option to put him on administrative leave, Jordan said.

"At this point, these are allegations," said Jordan. "There are people that get charges all the time."

Jordan said the allegations don't conflict with Dempsey's ability to do his job.

"If he's able to perform the duties of his job, and he's able to be licensed, those are the job requirements," said Jordan.

Jordan said he couldn't comment any further on discipline issues against a specific employee, including when the county became aware of his alleged crimes.

Depending on the outcome of the case, Jordan said the county could potentially take disciplinary action against Dempsey, and would also pay attention to whether the state medical board reprimands Dempsey or suspends his license.

If Oregon doctors are convicted of a crime, they are subject to a certain timeline to report their actions to the Oregon Medical Board, which will then proceed with its own investigation, board investigator Dave Lilly said.

— Teresa Ristow

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