A CA election district and an (allegedly) bad sheriff

From today’s DailyKos Elections Morning Digest, a story about one California election district, one employment discrimination lawsuit with a huge jury verdict, and one sheriff’s “behavior,” i.e., “unwanted sexual advances.”

Oh, the guy is running for Congress as a Republican. You’d think he’d clear up this little bad boy problem before venturing an election campaign, wouldn’t you?

Take a look:

CA-07: Back in May, in what the Sacramento Bee described as a “stunning” verdict, a jury awarded $3.6 million in damages to four female employees of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department who’d charged that their superiors had retaliated against them for complaining about discriminatory behavior. Overseeing the department during the period in question was Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican who is currently running for Congress against Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in California’s swingy 7th Congressional District.

Now Jones, who testified at the six-week trial, not only faces questions about his management skills but also his own behavior. Newly disclosed court documents from the lawsuit have revealed deposition testimony from a former subordinate of Jones’, Tosca Olives, who alleged that Jones had made unwanted sexual advances over a period of two years, from 2003 to 2005. Olives said that Jones touched her inappropriately and that the two had kissed, explaining that “because I was young. I felt embarrassed, or like I had brought it on myself and that I needed to engage in that activity because that was what was expected of me.” She added: “I felt like because he was my supervisor that he was more in control and in charge of the situation than I was.”

Jones denied the accusations in a sworn statement, though in an odd aside in the Bee’s writeup, he apparently said he “never had any physical contact” with Olives “of an intimate nature” … “except once.” (The first two quoted remarks are from Jones’ statement; the latter is the paper’s wording.) The issue never became part of the trial because the plaintiffs were limited to presenting evidence of retaliation and were not permitted to make a case that they’d been subject to a hostile workplace environment or sexual harassment. (Olives was not one of the plaintiffs.)

Jones, who has been married for 20 years, has refused to comment so far, and the county is appealing the lawsuit. But you have to wonder why Jones let himself get submarined by this now. Was he hoping it would stay under wraps through November? Or was the material perhaps under seal by court order? Whatever the case, he’ll have to address it sooner rather than later.


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