City Beat

Sacramento Councilman Allen Warren accused of sexual harassment

Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren speaks at a City Council meeting on May 12. Warren has been accused of sexual harassment by a former staff aide.
Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren speaks at a City Council meeting on May 12. Warren has been accused of sexual harassment by a former staff aide.

A former staff aide has filed a sexual harassment claim against Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren, alleging Warren abused his authority by coercing her into having sex with him multiple times over a two-year period.

In a claim filed with the city of Sacramento on Friday, Delia Chacon, 45, charged that Warren created an atmosphere of “quid pro quo sexual harassment” between Aug. 26, 2013, and June 8 of this year. Chacon said in her claim that she tried to “stop providing Mr. Warren with sexual favors,” but that the councilman threatened to fire her if she stopped.

Chacon said in her claim she was eventually fired, but the exact circumstances of her dismissal are unclear. She declined comment when reached Monday. Her attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Warren, 51, who represents North Sacramento, said he has been advised by his attorney not to comment. City Attorney James Sanchez did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Chacon said in her claim that she was fired by the city on June 23 and that she was offered about $16,000 in a settlement agreement. However, it is unclear whether Chacon ever signed a settlement agreement or what issues the city would have settled over.

Chacon was listed in past city documents as Warren’s outreach coordinator. Her name no longer appears on Warren’s city website.

Her claim does not specify what damages she is seeking from Warren or the city of Sacramento. Claims filed against the city are often precursors to civil lawsuits.

Chacon’s claim was filed three months after a former aide to City Manager John Shirey filed a sexual harassment claim against Mayor Kevin Johnson. Estrellita Ilee Muller had sought $200,000 in her claim, which the city attorney and outside counsel determined to be unsubstantiated.

Johnson denied the allegations and Muller’s attorney later said her client was “satisfied with the conclusion of this matter.”

In the claim against Warren, Chacon said the councilman used his supervisory position “to repeatedly coerce her into submission to his repeated sexual requests.” The claim states Chacon accompanied Warren on “sexual escapades to Atlanta, Jamaica, Reno and Oroville” and allowed Warren “to grab and fondle her buttocks at work.”

Chacon said in her claim that she tried to stop the relationship on several occasions but was threatened with termination. The claim said Chacon “was a single mother who could not afford to be unemployed.”

In one instance of alleged harassment, Chacon said Warren took her to “one of his properties that hardly anyone knew about” – a cabin in the woods near Oroville. Warren stopped on the way to purchase wine and condoms, the claim stated.

Once at the cabin, “Warren displayed shotguns” and “proceeded to use the shotguns for target practice while Ms. Chacon watched fearfully.” When Chacon told Warren the guns scared her, “he laughed at her,” according to the claim.

“She feared for her life,” the claim stated. “They proceeded to have relations. (Warren) told (Chacon) that at that cabin he could have done anything to her without anyone knowing.”

The claim stated that Chacon “suffered greatly from (Warren’s) sexual harassment,” including “anxiety, depression and PTSD.”

Chacon took medical leave for work stress on May 7, the claim stated.

On May 15, Chacon sent Warren a text message saying “she was no longer going to submit to his sexual advances,” according to the claim. Warren threatened to fire her and said he would deny any accusations she would make, according to the claim.

“A few weeks later, (Warren) made her understand he would not terminate her if she would resume submitting to his sexual advances,” the claim reads. “Ms. Chacon refused these further sexual advances.”

On June 8, Chacon alleged she refused Warren’s request to work on non-city business during normal business hours. Around that same day, Warren threatened to fire Chacon within 90 days if she did not transfer from his office or leave her job voluntarily, according to the claim.

Chacon communicated with Stephanie Mizuno, the City Council’s operations manager, on June 17 about a “hostile work environment,” but “never expressly stated that she was suffering sexual harassment,” according to the claim. Mizuno told Chacon she should “apply for workers’ compensation.” Mizuno declined comment Monday.

According to Chacon’s claim, “Sacramento made no reasonable attempt to investigate (Chacon’s) complaint, accommodate her disability, or engage in any good faith interactive process.”

The claim alleges that city officials “failed to respond to Ms. Chacon’s complaints.” Chacon alleged the city “used its official process” to “aid and abet Mr. Warren’s sexual harassment of Ms. Chacon.” Witnesses named in the claim include three former and current staff aides to Warren, as well as Councilman Rick Jennings and city Director of Human Resources Geri Hamby.

Warren, elected to the City Council in 2012, grew up in Del Paso Heights and played football at Grant High School. He defeated former Councilman Rob Kerth in a tight and expensive race, vowing to represent a part of the city that often complains about being overlooked. He is married and has three children.

He is up for re-election next year and has been mentioned as a potential mayoral candidate if Johnson – a close political ally – does not seek a third term.

Warren’s development firm, New Faze, is headquartered on Del Paso Boulevard, the once-thriving commercial hub of North Sacramento. New Faze was once among the city’s most active development firms, but it was hit hard by the recession.

Warren and his company were the focus of several lawsuits that alleged unfinished work and unpaid bills. During his City Council campaign in 2012, Warren said some of the suits were aimed at subcontractors who worked on New Faze projects and that his company had never lost a legal battle.

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