Back in September, Kendra Castaneda filed a lawsuit against the city of Fullerton alleging that detective Ron Bair coerced her into numerous sex acts by leveraging favorable testimony during child custody hearings in return. He had been initially assigned to investigate a restraining order violation by Castaneda's ex-husband.
The inappropriate behavior began soon after in December 2012, the suit charged, when Bair asked Castaneda for "sexy pictures" and made suggestive comments about her body after lunch at El Torito. Now, the city of Fullerton has agreed to shell out more than half-a-million dollars to settle the suit–yet another embarrassment against its police department.
At the July 21 Fullerton city council meeting, council members approved the $550,000 settlement during closed session. Detective Bair? For one reason or another, he's been out of the Fullerton police department since late 2013, around the time Castaneda alleged that he turned on her child custody hearings after she filed a complaint with FPD about his behavior.
That year, she met with Fullerton police, giving her side of the story only to have them infer that the sexual relationship had been a consensual one. Castaneda filed a complaint against two sergeants and a captain. Chief Dan Hughes responded to her with a letter obtained by the Weekly.
"I understand your frustration with former officer Ron Bair, but you have blamed him for your situation, the judge, and now three additional members of our department," Hughes told Castaneda. "You may also want to consider the poor choices you have made to contribute to your current situation." The Orange County District Attorney's office previously declined to file criminal charges for lack of sufficient evidence.
The sizable payout joins the $1 million Fullerton agreed to pay Catherine Thomas, the mother of Kelly Thomas, in 2012 for the homeless man's death at the hands of the city's police department the year before.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2