By Mary Plummer and Aaron Mendelson
The grim, clear capacity are public, but sit silently in case files beyond Los Angeles County. Some lay out affecting accounts of animal delinquency by canton employees, from exact corruption to concrete assault, including rape.
Few of the allegations accept been accounting about afore in annual stories.
In acknowledgment to a KPCC/LAist annal request, canton admiral searched employment, accepted liability, medical corruption and law administration acknowledged filings to analyze cases angry to animal delinquency allegations. They articular 134 cases that concluded with settlements or judgments.
In all, the canton paid out added than $36.3 actor — including $13.7 actor in attorneys’ fees — to dness these delinquency claims amid July 2004 and June 2017.
L.A. Canton employs 108,000 workers beyond the drape of America’s best crawling county. Its workforce is advance over 4,000 aboveboard afar and 34 departments.
To bigger administer and assure employees, the canton adopted new abode behavior in 2011 and now describes them as a civic gold standard. Amid the program’s goals: absorber government advisers from animal aggravation in the workplace.
Extensive attainable annal from the canton and bounded courts advised by KPCC/LAist actualization a behemothic government activity at times falling abbreviate of that mission.
The cases of calumniating behavior accommodate allegations of delinquency by canton advisers adjoin colleagues, contractors and associates of the public.
Among our findings:
A PATTERN OF HARASSMENT
LAC USC Medical Center is a attainable hospital that serves some of the atomic association in the region. It was area canton agent Gilbert Montejo worked, best afresh authoritative ultrasound technicians.
In the abatement of 2010, one adolescent woman was aloof weeks into her new job aback her affliction with Montejo began.
Montejo declared her into his office, bound the door, switched off the lights and began authoritative exceptionable advances, she said in a acknowledged affirmation that he responded to by abstinent wrongdoing. She was 23. He was 53.
The case resulted in a settlement. In her claim, the woman said Montejo affected her all over her body, in animal corruption that eventually escalated into affected articulate .
Three added changeable ultrasound technicians supervised by Montejo fabricated agnate allegations in their claims. Anniversary declared Montejo calling her into his office, again avaricious and kissing her adjoin her wishes, and afterwards allurement her to accumulate his conduct a secret. (KPCC/LAist is not anecdotic bodies who declared animal advance by name in this article.)
The canton ultimately spent about $870,000 in aborigine funds to pay for attorneys and dness animal corruption claims adjoin Montejo fabricated by the four women.
The allegations fabricated by the woman who began alive for Montejo aback she was 23 were graphic.
She declared in abstracts filed in L.A. Canton Superior Cloister that while she was pregnant, “Montejo would alarm her into his appointment and, while putting his feel central of plaintiff’s , he would cull bottomward his pants or booty out his penis and masturbate. Aback he finished, he would clean his penis with a tissue.” Montejo denied the accusation in a cloister filing. Attempts to annual Montejo were unsuccessful.
The woman’s advocate said her client, who was active through a staffing agency, didn’t initially abode the corruption because she feared blow her job at the county-run hospital.
Her case abandoned amount canton taxpayers added than $500,000. She appear Montejo’s conduct on June 7, 2013, added than two years afterwards she said it began.
And her advocate wrote in her affirmation that Montejo “was ually afflictive advisers that he supervised as aboriginal as 2007.”
Five canicule afterwards she filed her complaint, Montejo was abeyant afterwards pay for 30 days. A letter from the county’s assets analysis addressed him: “It is declared you demanded, on assorted occasions, [the woman] to accomplish animal favors for best treatment.”
Montejo initially contested the suspension. A letter accounting on his annual states that he “specifically and absolutely denies any and all allegations.” But he bound abandoned his claiming and retired.
Around that aforementioned time, complaints filed on annual of added victims additionally claimed that Montejo, who controlled the schedules of ultrasound technicians, warned the women not to abode his actions.
One of the women declared in cloister abstracts that admiral at the hospital knew of Montejo’s accomplishments “but did annihilation to stop him.”
Los Angeles County’s Administration of Health Services, which operates the hospital, responded to those claims, adage they “took actual and adapted accomplishments in acknowledgment by ablution centralized investigations and allied with bounded law enforcement.”
“However, because the amount involves arcane cadre matters, DHS is clumsy to accord you a added abundant response,” administration admiral wrote in an emailed statement.
Separately, canton attorneys said abrupt activity already they were acquainted of allegations about Montejo helped absolute attorneys’ fees in the civilian cases.
Montejo’s woes weren’t over. In 2014, about a year afterwards he retired, Montejo pleaded no challenge to three counts of array in a bent case accompanying to the abode allegations adjoin him.
He was bedevilled to 30 canicule in bastille and dozens of Sex Compulsives Anonymous classes. He was additionally banned from accepting a job as administrator or one area he controlled the assignment schedules of others.
The sentencing adjustment requires Montejo to break 100 yards abroad from six altered women, including the four who acclimatized with the county, and banned advice with them. He is barred from activity a his old workplace, the LAC USC hospital, beneath the acceding of the order.
He kept his canton pension. Montejo has calm upwards of $60,000 in alimony and allowances from the canton every abounding year aback he retired in July 2013, according to the nonprofit Transparent California, which collects attainable annal on government pay and pensions.
KPCC again attempted to annual the women who acclimatized with the county, through their attorney. The bureau that active two of the women who settled, XPRT Staffing, additionally did not acknowledgment annual requests.
‘A VERY ROBUST COMPLAINT AND INVESTIGATIONS MECHANISM’
When Canton advisers appetite to accuse of abode animal harassment, racism and age discrimination, they go through an appointment in the basement of a city Los Angeles building.
The Canton Intake Specialist Assemblage takes in all complaints about conduct that violates accompaniment and federal protections for religion, race, animal acclimatization and added categories. Best complaints are submitted online, but advisers can abode complaints in being by visiting the apartment of offices and campanology a doorbell.
From mid-2011 to backward 2017, the assemblage fielded about 4,800 complaints of animal harassment, 17 percent of its complaints overall, according to attainable records.
The complaints accommodate a wide-range of behavior, including issues that don’t acceleration to the acknowledged accepted for animal harassment, such as blue jokes. Canton admiral told KPCC/LAist that they accept encouraged agents to abode alike accessory incidents in adjustment to potentially arch off added arrant behavior.
Part 2: Animal Delinquency At The L.A. Sheriff’s Costs Millions — Outpacing Added Canton Departments
Late aftermost year, afterwards animal corruption allegations emerged adjoin high-profile men beyond the nation, the canton saw an uptick in complaints from its employees. At the time, the Board of Admiral declared for a analysis of countywide procedures and requested some improvements.
But in interviews with KPCC, admiral said their activity and activity works.
“We are accompaniment of the art. We accept been accomplishing this for absolutely a while,” Vickey Bane, the controlling administrator of the Canton Disinterestedness Oversight Panel [CEOP]. “We accept a actual able-bodied complaint and investigations apparatus in the county, and I’m aloof appreciative that we accept this in existence.”
“Every complaint gets an investigation, which is what the law requires,” said Canton Counsel Mary Wickham.
“So abounding association aloof appetite to be heard,” Wickham added. “They aloof appetite to accept a abode area they can complain, and be listened to, and be assured that article is activity to be done. That’s absolutely what best bodies want.”
Senior Abettor Canton Counsel Rose Belda stood abaft the County’s policies, adage the affairs has helped to change the county’s abode ability for the bigger and anticipate problems from escalating.
“If there’s a bigger one, alarm us,” she said. “We’ll archetype it.”
Still, the canton is authoritative changes.
In September, an analysis scrutinized 50 cases to clue whether CEOP’s recommendations for conduct were followed. Auditors apparent that about bisected the time it had been bargain or eliminated. The analysis begin the boilerplate time it took from the time of the antecedent complaint to aback an agent faced conduct was 18 months. And in six cases, conduct remained unenforced for six months or longer.
Why? The analysis acclaimed that departments had acumen to abate recommended discipline. Auditors said tracking how those accommodation are fabricated should be a top priority.
Belda did not acknowledge to requests for animadversion on the audit. CEOP has until aboriginal 2019 to apparatus recommendations that accommodate dispatch up responses to complaints.
SECRECY AND SETTLEMENTS
KPCC/LAist accomplished out to added than a dozen bodies who sued Los Angeles Canton with claims of animal harassment. No one agreed to allege on the record.
Many can’t beneath the acceding of their payouts.
In some cases, those who declared aggravation adjoin canton advisers and were paid settlements are clumsy to allege about their experiences, accepting active acquaintance clauses as allotment of their agreements.
One woman banned from speaking: a mother who was ually assaulted during a home analysis by a Administration of Accouchement and Ancestors Services amusing worker. According to her account, the canton agent threatened to booty abroad her accouchement and again ually assaulted her during a home visit, all while her babyish was comatose in a adjacent room. She appear him to authorities.The employee, Yadullah “Eddie” Lorghaba, was arrested in 2010, answerable and again bedevilled at balloon of animal battery. He pleaded not guilty. Lorghaba was bedevilled to a year in prison.
In a civilian case about the aforementioned incident, the woman acclimatized with the canton for $32,500.
But she can’t altercate the case, alike if she’d like to. The adjustment she active forbids her and her attorneys from talking about the case, afterwards accounting approval from the county. It goes added than most, banning her from advice the settlement, which is a attainable record, to the media.
KPCC/LAist advised the argument of 90 of the adjustment agreements provided by L.A. County. Forty-one of them accommodate accent apropos nondisclosure or nondisparagement, prohibiting the bodies who say they suffered animal delinquency from speaking out.
County attorneys said agreements are awful case-specific, and aegis agent reputations on all sides.
But some catechism the use of the practice. Plaintiff’s advocate Timothy Kearns, who has represented bodies alleging animal aggravation adjoin their employers, argued that acquaintance agreements assure employers, not plaintiffs.
“You apperceive how abounding times I proposed a acquaintance agreement? Zero,” Kearns said. “I abhorrence confidentiality.”
Nondisclosure agreements or NDAs accept become acutely arguable in the deathwatch of the #MeToo movement. Critics accusation that able figures, including Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes, accept acclimated the agreements to blackout their accusers and adumbrate declared harassment.
Concern that such agreements asphyxiate victims led to activity in Sacramento.
In August, afterward a cord of animal aggravation allegations adjoin associates of the California Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown active a bill banning the use of nondisclosure agreements in animal aggravation and animal advance cases. The bill’s author, Sen. Connie Leyva, argued that “secret settlements serve one primary purpose: to accumulate animal predators abroad from the attainable eye and continuing to affliction and aching innocent victims.”
Still, attorneys say sometimes their audience aloof appetite to move on, and accept little admiration to bethink capacity of their affliction in public. Separately, some achievement that ample settlements can activation organizations to advance workplaces — alike if they’re abandoned afraid about their basal line.
“If we aloof artlessly accomplish it financially absurd to accept harassers, again bodies will stop harassing,” Kearns said. “That’s the goal.”
County attorneys fatigued that the accommodation to achieve a case doesn’t beggarly an acceptance of wrongdoing.
“We achieve cases for a lot of reasons. I’m not adage we accept aggregate in the complaint, or annihilation in the complaint,” Rose Belda said. “That’s aloof not how settlements work.”
STILL ON THE JOB
Those who accord with abode aggravation cases say preventing animal misbehavior comes bottomward to two factors: training and accountability.
“Where administration accommodate centralized remedies to advisers that abundantly abode the complaint, they’re far beneath acceptable to end up in big-ticket litigation,” said aegis advocate Traci Park, who has represented several municipalities in Southern California.
Yet it abandoned takes one agent afflictive addition to atom problems.
In 2012, Paula Ferrell began assignment as an abettor at the Antelope Valley appointment of Los Angeles Canton Administrator Michael Antonovich. Antonovich was a accoutrement in bounded politics, confined over three decades on the able Board of Admiral afore he termed-out in 2016.
Ferrell said in cloister filings that anon afterwards she started in the office, her bang-up Sherrie Borzaga began a attack of harassment. Borzaga frequently and absolutely bidding a adventurous absorption in Ferrell’s husband, who was a sheriff’s deputy, according to the documents.
At one point, Borzaga allegedly told Ferrell: “If you die in a car accident, I’ll be the woman continuing aing to your bedmate in a atramentous dress at your funeral. I consistently capital to be affiliated to a Agent Sheriff.”
Ferrell said she a Norman Hickling, at the time a arch acreage agent in the supervisor’s office, about the declared harassment.
In her acknowledged complaint, she said Hickling never appear it, which would be a corruption of canton policy. Instead, according to the filings, he set up a appointment alarm in an attack to arbitrate the conflict. The alarm included Borzaga, Hickling and Tony Bell, who at the time was Antonovich’s abettor arch deputy. Bell now works for Administrator Kathryn Barger in a agnate role; neither he nor Hickling nor Borzaga agreed to annual requests.
During the call, according to the complaint, Hickling encouraged the advisers to assignment things out, saying: “We are all actuality to assure Administrator Antonovich. We accusation to do what’s best for him.”
In May 2013, cloister annal accompaniment Ferrell fabricated a blast complaint anon to the Canton Disinterestedness Oversight Panel answerable with attractive into claims. She said she never heard back. Canton attorneys said they were clumsy to animadversion on the allegation, aback it complex a cadre issue. Attorneys who formed on the aegis for the canton and Borzaga denied the allegations in cloister filings.
The case did not allure annual advantage at the time.
Two canicule afterwards Ferrell’s complaint, she was absolved from her job, the cloister abstracts assert. The canton acclimatized the case for $42,500.
In the adjustment the canton said it “denies, repudiates and disputes anniversary and every claim, allegation, and account of action.” The acceding contains a acquaintance article for Ferrell and confined Ferrell’s advocate from publicizing or alike advice the adjustment “in any appointment or form.”
‘AN EXPLOSION IN THE WORKPLACE’
Details on the county’s administration of animal delinquency letters by advisers are limited. Of course, accusations are not consistently true. They’re additionally not all appropriately serious. L.A. Canton abstracts shows complaints about disinterestedness issues are frequently begin to not acceleration to the akin of a abeyant violation, for abounding reasons.
Still, aback things do go wrong, delinquency complaints can apparent austere issues.
“Once aggravation happens, on the claimed akin for workers, it’s like an access in the workplace,” said SEIU Bounded 721 Communications Administrator Coral Itzcalli. The abutment represents about 60,000 attainable account workers in L.A. Canton spanning jobs in advance care, sanitation and healthcare.
Itzcalli said she knows of canton workers who accomplished astringent accent afterwards incurring corruption from admiral at assignment that led to problems sleeping and tensions with ancestors members. Some problems were so bad, workers acquainted answerable to booty medical leave.
“I didn’t feel like I had a voice. I acquainted frustrated, anxious. Stressed. A lot of anxiety.”
“They aloof couldn’t booty it anymore to be at work,” she said.
Since bounce of 2016, Itzcalli said her abutment has formed to aish or alteration added than 25 admiral whom it articular as problems from the county’s Administration of Health Services alone. Animal aggravation was amid a ambit of issues workers there appear to the union. Some said they were argument on or physically assaulted by supervisors.
The 134 cases that concluded in settlements or judgments over the aeon advised by KPCC/LAist are the exception, not the rule. Best workers who abode aggravation never sue.
Medical case artisan Cindie Magdaleno took the added accepted approach. She filed a academic complaint afterwards her changeable administrator verbally addled her.
Magdaleno told KPCC/LAist that she accomplished exact aggravation from her administrator from the backward 2000s until the woman was transferred a few years ago.
Magdaleno, who was alive at the county-funded Olive View/UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, aboriginal complained to canton admiral about her analysis in 2011. (County Counsel said such complaints are arcane aback asked about her case.) Magdaleno said she kept alive for the administrator for several years while the woman fabricated again awkward animal comments to her about her looks and appearance.
“I didn’t feel like I had a voice. I acquainted frustrated, anxious. Stressed. A lot of anxiety. Maybe I appetite to say poor attendance, no will to appear to work,” she said. “Having to certificate and accomplish abiding that you actualize this able timeline. It was appealing frustrating, you know, hawkeye endless nights.”
Five added bodies filed a accumulation complaint adjoin the aforementioned supervisor, according to the SEIU’s Itzcalli. The abutment stepped in to advice and adjourned a mediation. Of the six individuals who accomplished problems with the supervisor, Itzcalli said the canton begin two people, including Magdaleno, were victims of animal harassment. Others accomplished exact corruption and corruption of power, Itzcalli said.
After her administrator was transferred, Magdaleno said she was able to resume her accustomed assignment life.
“I banned absolutely to be, to alteration myself out or to move. I acquainted that I bare to assure my co-workers,” she said. “It was not any best aloof about me. It was about added canton workers. And I bare to, you know, be that voice.”
HOW WE REPORTED THIS STORY
This adventure was appear application attainable annal and documents. The county, which does not accurately clue cases accompanying to animal misconduct, articular accordant cases in acknowledgment to a KPCC/LAist annal request. An antecedent acknowledgment provided abstracts on a few dozen Application Practices cases. A subsequent, broader chase angry up added than 130 cases by additionally analytic Accepted Liability, Law Enforcement, and Medical Corruption case types. According to a canton advocate who handled the request, “The cases in anniversary of these categories which referenced the appellation ” or any ancestry thereof were advised and those cases involving animal misconduct, animal harassment, or any accompanying behavior by Canton advisers were identified.”
This cosmos of ‘ual misconduct’ cases is absurd to bout definitions of animal aggravation or animal delinquency acclimated by added jurisdictions, authoritative absolute comparisons difficult.
KPCC/LAist additionally requested attorneys’ fees incurred by the canton in its aegis for anniversary of the cases articular as animal delinquency by the county. These costs are rarely appear in the media in belief about settlements and judgments, but advice accommodate a fuller account of the accurate costs of such cases.
The canton did not accommodate one of the four civilian cases that called Gilbert Montejo as a actor in its abstracts on animal misconduct. A canton advocate said it had been “misplaced” in the activity of accouterment adapted data, and it is included in the abstracts presented in this story.
The capacity of the cases referenced in this adventure are about fatigued from the case files. An beat accommodation was fabricated by KPCC/LAist to anonymize the names of those who declared animal assault, decidedly men and women whose names had not ahead been in the media in affiliation with the case. Not every delinquency case complex an accusation of animal assault. Added annal activated in this adventure accommodate bent cloister records, Los Angeles Canton Civilian Account Commission records, Sheriff’s Administration bedfellow records, and about accessible abstracts on the canton workforce.
With added advertisement from David Rodriguez.
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