Capitol Alert

Court didn’t rule on claims of unwanted sexual advances by Sheriff Scott Jones

Sheriff Scott Jones: 'Department strongly disagrees with verdict'

Jurors awarded more than $3.57 million in damages to the four veteran female sheriff’s deputies who claimed their Sheriff’s Department superiors retaliated against them for speaking out against discrimination and preferential treatment in their ra
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Jurors awarded more than $3.57 million in damages to the four veteran female sheriff’s deputies who claimed their Sheriff’s Department superiors retaliated against them for speaking out against discrimination and preferential treatment in their ra

Republican Scott Jones, a congressional candidate in Sacramento County, is accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a subordinate.

Tosca Olives, beginning as a 26-year-old sheriff’s deputy, claimed about 30 inappropriate encounters with Jones from 2003 to 2005. While Olives herself did not take formal action, her accusations were tucked in a lawsuit brought by four deputies against the Sheriff’s Department claiming retaliation.

Jones, now the county sheriff, issued a sworn statement filed with the court, stating 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.”

A day after The Sacramento Bee reported the story, Jones issued a lengthy statement via the Sheriff’s Department.

The July 15 statement: “Let me start by stating that I categorically, unequivocally, and emphatically deny the allegations of misconduct levied against me,” Jones said.

He added: “These allegations against me for conduct that allegedly occurred 13 years ago surfaced for the first time in 2014 when the female deputy was subpoenaed for a deposition, and was first documented in 2015 when plaintiffs were opposing the County’s motions for summary judgment. There was never any prior complaint or allegation made.

“The County ultimately prevailed in having claims for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, widespread sexual favoritism, race harassment, failure to prevent harassment, and violation of public policy dismissed prior to the trial. In the end, the judge ruled for the County in dismissing each of these claims, finding they had no merit. This included the unfounded allegations of the deputy.”

Analysis: The retaliation case in which the allegations against Jones were raised resulted in a combined multimillion-dollar damage award for the four female deputies who filed the suit.

Attorneys for Sgt. Tracie Keillor and Deputy Jodi Mendonca used Olives’ deposition to bolster other claims of a hostile work environment based on sexual favoritism.

They argued Jones showed protection of and preferential treatment towards Olives, concluding that was “further evidence of a hostile work environment at (the department) based on sexual favoritism.”

Judge David I. Brown did not allow the asserted widespread sexual favoritism to advance to trial, stating that both Keillor and Mendonca failed to initially plead the cause of action or raise it with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Brown went on to say that although an employee can establish an “actionable” claim of sexual harassment by demonstrating that widespread sexual favoritism was severe or pervasive enough to alter their working conditions and create a hostile work environment, “neither the allegations of the (second amended complaint), nor the facts before the court are sufficient to support this claim.”

But Jones is misleading when he says the court’s dismissal included “the unfounded” allegations of the deputy. Nothing in the court record indicates the judge passed judgment on the merits of Olives’ accusations.

There is no way to tell how much Brown weighed each of the facts, and, specifically, how much consideration he gave Olives’ deposition. Jones is the one calling them “unfounded,” not the court.

Jurors awarded more than $3.57 million in damages to the four veteran female sheriff’s deputies who claimed their Sheriff’s Department superiors retaliated against them for speaking out against discrimination and preferential treatment in their ra

PoliGRAPH is The Bee’s political fact checker, rating campaign advertisements and candidate claims as True, Iffy or False.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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