Capitol Alert

Sheriff says he complained about deputy who alleged he sexually harassed her

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones discusses an investigation in June.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones discusses an investigation in June. AP

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said Monday that he complained up the chain of command about the deputy whose sworn allegations of unwanted sexual advances against him have risen to the center of his congressional contest with Democratic Rep. Ami Bera.

But Jones, a Republican who wrote in a sworn statement that it was the deputy who made advances toward him, refused to provide details about the complaint or say whether it resulted in discipline.

“Other stuff did happen. She acted inappropriately toward me,” Jones told The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board when asked about the deputy’s statement.

“I did report the conduct. I cannot talk about what I did or to whom because those records are confidential,” he added. “I cannot talk about her confidential personnel records. I cannot talk about what happened back then, and I cannot talk about what’s happened in her career since.”

The alleged actions behind the accusations of Tosca Olives, at the time a 26-year-old sheriff’s deputy, were said to have occurred between 2003 and 2005, before Jones became sheriff. Olives made the charges in a deposition, a portion of which was filed in court last year to support a retaliation and harassment lawsuit by others against the county.

Olives’ allegations against Jones were first reported by The Sacramento Bee in July, and now are being featured by Bera’s campaign in TV ads designed to derail Jones’ congressional bid. Jones called them “categorically, unequivocally untrue,” adding, “I think most people see it for what it is, which is a political attack.”

Jones, specifying that he didn’t want to use Olives’ name when discussing the competing charges, said he didn’t want to speculate about her motives. The Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, he said, prevents him from discussing “the things that I can say that might go to her motive,” he said.

“I cannot stand up and defend myself in a way that would be absolutely most effective,” Jones said.

In the court documents, Olives said the contact started with Jones rubbing her shoulders while she took work-related phone calls.

Over two years, she said in a deposition, the touching intensified to him reaching under her shirt. Olives said they engaged in mutual kissing and she contends Jones unzipped her pants. She claimed about 30 inappropriate encounters from 2003 to 2005.

Jones, in his sworn statement, said he never had romantic or sexual interest in Olives and, except once, when she kissed him, “never had any physical contact with her of an intimate nature.” He also said he was made uncomfortable when Olives took off her uniform top in the law library and rubbed her chest under her T-shirt.

On Monday, in his most extensive remarks about the allegations, Jones noted Olives has refused interview requests from reporters since her deposition surfaced, a fact he called “odd from a newsworthiness perspective.”

“I feel I have done absolutely everything I could possibly do as an innocent person wrongly accused of these allegations to refute them,” Jones said.

“There has been no corroboration. The people she has identified as witnesses were interviewed and never could corroborate anything. There’s been no compelling evidence to suggest that any of this ever happened.”

Olives could not be reached for comment.

Jones also spoke for the first time about why, if he was trying to avoid Olives after she made advances toward him, he would reach out to her in a 2008 email.

Jones said they spent a lot of time together, with him acting as a mentor. He said he chose not to be around her, “but that being said I didn’t want to destroy her career.” So when he saw her on the street one day and she didn’t respond to his greeting, he wrote an email to check on her and wish her well.

He said he did not expect her to reply the way she did, including calling their relationship “very unhealthy and highly inappropriate,” and instructing Jones that she no longer respected him and didn’t want to be his friend.

“It told me, in all candor, that she still had a lot of the same issues ... as the reason I stopped being around her in the first place,” he said.

“And so, I just kind of threw up my hands and said, ‘OK, I get it, I knew you were always looking for happiness, I am glad you found it, I’ll consider (us) acquaintances.’”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago