Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yolo sheriff faces second sexual harassment lawsuit

From page A1 | July 12, 2013 | 2 Comments

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 or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene


Discussion | 2 comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Judy ClarkJuly 13, 2013 - 7:58 am

    I would be totally shocked if this story about Ed Prieto was true. My daughter worked there in 1998-1999 and was treated very well by all the staff. I'm writing in support of Ed Prieto, whom I believe to be innocent of these charges. He has been a very reliable Sheriff, with good values. My daughter was Suzanne Clark Durfey. Sincerely, Judy Clark

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Fred HarveyJuly 13, 2013 - 8:33 am

    Why do I smell an extortion attempt here?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Posts

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

  • .


    ‘Eco-Heroes’ help get us from here to there

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

    Home building up in March after frigid winter

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Davis elder-abuse case wraps up

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Alleged serial killings highlight GPS limits

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    CHP seeks owner of lost cash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Family fiction in miniature showcased at bookstore event

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

    Local professor subdues unruly man on flight

    By Adrian Glass-Moore | From Page: A3

    Rotarians, students, teachers, parents collaborate on planter boxes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Yolo Crisis Nursery is in crisis; please help

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Seniors can get tips for getting around town

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    School has garden plots for rent

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sugar overload, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Check out the night sky

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Hop to it: Easter Bunny meets Davis history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Garden doctor: Veggie gardening available year-round

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Animal expert explains dogs’ thinking

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Are we there yet?: Self-reflections of a would-be stage mom

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8Comments are off for this post



    Still supporting this guy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

    Urban forest under siege

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

    Drought care for our trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



    UCD staff allows 19 hits in Causeway rout

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS softball struggles in nonleague outing

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils open Boras Classic by splitting games

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    JV/frosh roundup: DHS sweeps a trio of baseball games

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: River Cats get by Grizzlies at Raley

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Giants beat L.A. in 12

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Sports briefs: Stanford sends Aggies home with a lacrosse loss

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery





    Red Union Blue inks record deal

    By Landon Christensen | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Craft Center exhibit explores ‘Possibilities’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    RootStock to host wine themed plein aire exhibit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    The California Honeydrops to bring danceable groove to The Palms

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    See Flower Power exhibit at Gallery 625

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery







    Comics: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6