The Public Eye

Lawyer demanded $200,000 from Sacramento Councilman Warren after harassment claim

Councilman Allen Warren hosts a community meeting about Grant High School facility repairs in April 2014 at Robertson Community Center in North Sacramento. An attorney for a woman who had accused Warren of sexual harassment demanded $200,000 from the councilman, but there is no evidence Warren agreed to pay the sum.
Councilman Allen Warren hosts a community meeting about Grant High School facility repairs in April 2014 at Robertson Community Center in North Sacramento. An attorney for a woman who had accused Warren of sexual harassment demanded $200,000 from the councilman, but there is no evidence Warren agreed to pay the sum. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren received a sharply worded letter in November demanding that he pay $200,000 to a former city aide who had accused him of sexual harassment.

In the letter, attorney Ralph Lee threatened to file a lawsuit against Warren if he did not respond to the Nov. 4, 2015, letter within 14 days. The letter was obtained by The Sacramento Bee under the state’s Public Records Act.

There are no records showing Warren responded to Lee’s letter or agreed to his monetary demands, and the former aide, Delia Chacon, did not sue Warren.

The councilman, who represents North Sacramento, declined to comment on the letter’s contents and would not say whether he had paid Chacon a settlement.

Warren, who is running for re-election June 7 against two challengers, has repeatedly said Chacon’s allegations are false. Chacon withdrew her claim in February, saying in a written statement released by Lee that she regretted “any negative impact her allegations may have had on Councilmember Warren or the city.”

Chacon did not return messages from The Bee. Lee said in an email last week, “In accordance with my client’s wishes, I have no further comment.”

The city denied Chacon’s claim and City Attorney James Sanchez said in February his office considered the “matter concluded.” Sanchez’s office hired two law firms to conduct a third-party investigation of the case, but the city has not released results of that investigation. The city paid those firms roughly $50,000 for the investigation.

Chacon’s claim, filed in July, alleged that Warren had threatened to fire her if she ended their sexual relationship. The claim said Warren created an atmosphere of “quid pro quo sexual harassment.”

Three months later, Lee told Warren in his letter that his firm was preparing to file a lawsuit against Warren and the city.

“However, before we do, I propose we attempt to amicably resolve the matter once and for all through a settlement agreement,” Lee wrote. “To that end, my client hereby demands two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000), in exchange for a full mutual waiver and release including of fees and costs. My client is neutral about whether the money is paid by you and/or the City.”

Lee wrote that he had “substantial evidence of (Warren’s) callous sexual abuse.”

“You are delusional if you believe your relations were consensual,” he wrote.

Lee attached a series of text messages he said were between Chacon and Warren. None of those text messages appear to provide direct evidence of an inappropriate relationship between Warren and Chacon.

In one, Warren wishes Chacon a happy Valentine’s Day. In others, Warren updates Chacon on meetings and his lunch schedule.

Chacon sent Warren a series of messages on Dec. 22, 2014, including one text in which she wrote: “I think it’s clear that any relation between us is over, work and otherwise. Now, we find the best way possible to move forward.” Warren responded, “Figure out what you want to do. I will (not) play games. Leave the drama for others. Next crazy text will be turned over.”

Warren is seeking re-election in the North Sacramento council district he has represented since 2012. He is being challenged by Gregory Jefferson, head of the Del Paso Heights Community Association, and Sondra Betancourt of the Ben Ali Community Association.

Neither of Warren’s challengers has made the harassment claim a campaign issue.

Warren has raised just over $19,000 for the race after spending more than $350,000 to defeat former Councilman Rob Kerth in 2012. He has also loaned his campaign $5,000 and the development company he founded, New Faze, loaned the campaign an additional $20,000, campaign finance records show.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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