Lawsuit: Former SCAQMD Official Sexually Harrassed Secretaries, His Superiors Punished Victims

For Shawn Nelson and Miguel Pulido, the sensational Carlos Bustamante sex scandal wasn't the only recent time the two Orange County veteran politicians have come face to face with alleged naughty, illegal conduct in government offices.

Both Nelson, a county supervisor, and Pulido, Santa Ana's mayor, serve on the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), which is currently battling a lawsuit that claims the agency ignored the conduct of a high-ranking bureaucrat who repeatedly sexually harassed three secretaries.

The secretaries worked as longtime assistants to district prosecutor Kirk A. Dublin, who resigned in the wake of an internal investigation and before the women filed their June 2011 lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

According to the complaint, Dublin engaged in numerous instances of "sexual talk, sexual joking, sexual posturing" and "other harmful and offensive conduct toward women in general" for 10 months while he worked at the agency.

For example, Dublin suggested one of the women buy and wear stiletto heels to work when he observed her shoe shopping online. At other times, he would "come up from behind them" and "slide his forearms and/or elbows along their breast area," according to the lawsuit.

Despite his attendance at a mandatory sexual harassment training class, the plaintiffs allege that the harassment continued unabated. Whenever one of them bent over in Dublin's view, he loudly exclaimed that she should lead the office in an aerobics class, and don a leopard-printed leotard while doing so, according to the lawsuit.

Court documents also indicate that the women were reluctant to inform top management officials for fear of retaliation. In May 2009, however, one of the women complained about Dublin's "campaign of harassment" to Kurt Weise, the agency's general counsel. Weise immediately called a meeting with Dublin to discuss the accusations; Dublin denied any wrongdoing and suggested Weise terminate her employment for her reproach of him, according to the complaint.

She spoke out against Dublin to Weise for a second time in September 2009; in response, she claims Weise placed her on a "work plan," a form of discipline designed to rectify insufficient work performance; as for Dublin, no corrective action was taken.

William N. Woodson, the lawyer for the secretaries, also claimed in the 21-page lawsuit that the agency "knew or should have known" when it hired Dublin that he "had a reputation for engaging in sexual harassment of the female employees at places of his prior employment."

The trial is scheduled to begin in September.

SCAQMD officials declined to comment.

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