Thursday, January 29, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Yolo sheriff faces second sexual harassment lawsuit

By
From page A1 | July 12, 2013 |

Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto is facing a second federal sexual-harassment case involving one of his longtime female employees, the latest allegations filed in a lawsuit earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Deputy Robin Gonzalez, 42, claims she has been subjected to “unwanted hugging, kissing, sexual touching and sexual comments” from Prieto during her 11-year career with the Sheriff’s Department, including a request for oral sex in exchange for Gonzalez remaining in her investigations assignment.

“As a result of the harassment, plaintiff’s workplace was permanently altered, becoming increasingly hostile, and resulted in plaintiff suffering damages including emotional distress,” the lawsuit says.

Prieto declined to comment at length about the lawsuit, saying only that “the accusations absolutely, unequivocally are absurd, period.”

He referred questions to Cori Sarno, the Sacramento attorney representing the county in the matter, who characterized the suit as “a bogus attempt to extort money from the county by making false, inflammatory claims against the sheriff.”

“The county has looked into Deputy Gonzalez’s claims by hiring an independent investigator who interviewed quite a few people in the department and found no evidence to support her claims of sexual harassment,” Sarno said.

She added that Prieto regularly hugs friends and colleagues — men and women alike — “as do other people in the public eye every day.”

Gonzalez says in the 13-page lawsuit that the alleged harassment began when she first applied for the deputy’s position in 2002. At that time, Prieto called her a “tall drink of water” and said she needed a “sugar daddy,” the suit claims.

Over the course of her career, Prieto has hugged Gonzalez “in excess of 50 times” and on at least two occasions slid his hand onto Gonzalez’s backside, the deputy alleged. She also claims that Prieto made unwelcome and offensive comments regarding her weight loss.

When Gonzalez was assigned to the investigations division, Prieto allegedly told her that if she gave him oral sex, “you could stay in the investigator position.”

Other deputies became aware of the alleged treatment, with one encouraging Gonzalez to “go take one for the team” so that her fellow deputies could obtain more overtime hours, the lawsuit says.

Though hesitant to report Prieto’s alleged behavior for fear of retaliation, Gonzalez says she eventually went to the county’s human resources director, who responded that “there was little the county could do because Prieto was an elected official,” according to the suit.

Untrue, replied Sarno, who said Prieto denied making a request for sexual favors or any other lewd comment. As to the references to Gonzalez’s weight loss, Sarno said the sheriff “encourages deputies, correctional officers and staff to be physically fit and compliments people who are attempting to improve their health through losing weight as a means of encouragement.”

Gonzalez’s attorney, Johnny L. Griffin III, declined to comment further about the lawsuit’s allegations. The suit seeks unspecified damages for claims of discrimination, sexual harassment and failure to prevent sexual harassment.

Griffin also represents Victoria Zetwick, a longtime corrections sergeant with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department who filed a similar lawsuit against Prieto and the county last October.

Zetwick claims Prieto harassed her and subjected her to “unwelcome hugs and kisses” over a 14-year period during which her superiors failed to take any action when she complained. Prieto also has denied those allegations.

That lawsuit remains in the discovery and pretrial motion stage, according to Griffin, though Sarno said defense attorneys are preparing a motion to have the case, which she described as “meritless,” dismissed.

Both Zetwick and Gonzalez remain active employees of the Sheriff’s Department, Yolo County spokeswoman Beth Gabor confirmed Thursday.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Work continues to modernize Davis Healthcare Center

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    Holman continues to educate and inspire

    By Daniella Tutino | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    ‘Huck’ and ‘Tom’ float old Arboretum dock to removal

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Teens arrested after midnight joyride

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Biologists: Raising California dam would harm salmon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Meet the mayor for coffee at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Author joins radio show

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Make your own SoulCollage on Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Overweight video game avatars ‘play’ worse than fit ones

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Walk through Quail Ridge Reserve on Feb. 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Calling all chicken owners: Apply for coop crawl, share information

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Hopmans named associate vice provost for global affairs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Review motivation to refresh your healthy-habits plan

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Tips to protect skin this winter

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    For health and healthy appearance, there’s just one quick fix

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Measles outbreak grows

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

     
    NAMI-Yolo examines inpatient services at potluck

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Basement living, with attitude to match

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    50 years since Ash Hall

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Can climate change bring us together?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Paso Fino coming to a vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    Aggies still looking for record hoops win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devil Hammond has a huge day at home

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Pent up? Join Davis’ latest athletic event

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Two in a row for Devil boys

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD roundup: Aggie football players crack the books

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Youth roundup: Harper hoopsters off to hot start

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Treys send Toronto past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

     
    College Corner: Have wanderlust? Go overseas for college

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A8

    District learns from bomb threat incident

    By Kellen Browning | From Page: A8

     
    It’s Girl Scout Cookie time!

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Feenstra-Fisher wedding

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Arts

    Show explores the evolution of dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    A rose by any other name — if there is one

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A11

     
    Acclaimed guitarist Adrian Legg to play at The Palms on Saturday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    James George Tingus

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, January 29, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B6