Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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 lkeene@davisenterprise.net 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

    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1

     
    Yolo grows sunflower seeds for the world

    By Margaret Burns | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    True Blue Devil Arnold gave back starting in high school

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    American militant reportedly killed in Syria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Gaza cease-fire holds as sides weigh gains

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    California beach town sees flooding from hurricane

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Assembly passes campus sexual-assault bill

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Sunder campaign distributes signs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Farmworkers’ son wins prestigious NIH scholarship

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Interested in Portuguese? Drop by I-House

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Play groups offered by Center for Families

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Give blood and get a free movie ticket

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Chat with Poppenga at coffee shop

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Raley’s pays $1.6 million to settle hazardous-waste lawsuit

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Back-to-school party benefits Archer campaign

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Breast cancer program examines surgery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Crisis nursery bill on governor’s desk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Global warming on group’s agenda

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    A sweet reward for turning in cash

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A4

    Yolo Federal to hold photo contest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Try yoga, meditation at Holistic Health Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Troops get ‘Hugs From Home’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Documentary reveals ‘The Village Under the Forest’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    UCD West Village gets an electric Zipcar

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    UCD ranks No. 16 for serving the public interest

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Little Rock hero featured at reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Wolk’s infrastructure bill clears state Senate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Parents could use a hand at home

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Obama risks alienating Latinos

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A6

    A water plan for all of California

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    MRAP sends the wrong message

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Play structure idea endorsed

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Thanks for firearms info

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Buschman, Cats mute the Sounds

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    New coach eager to see his Aggie charges hit the courses

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Shaw respects Aggies, while Gould is happy to get a shot at Stanford

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils prep for tough 2014 volleyball schedule

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Bumgarner deals as Giants blank Rockies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Carter’s blast send Astros past A’s

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Sports briefs: Online registration ends Friday for Labor Day Races

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Field to fork: Play catch-up with summer’s produce

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Franco M. Navazio, M.D.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6