Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Accused of Sexual Harassment, Again

A former aide in the Sacramento city manager’s office filed a claim last month against Mayor Kevin Johnson alleging the mayor sexually harassed her multiple times over a seven-month period at City Hall. The complainant is a 32-year-old Estrellita Ilee Muller is seeking $200,000 in damages after she says the mayor pressed his body against her, felt her torso and tried to kiss her.
According to the claim filed last month with the clerk’s office, Muller was summoned to the mayoral library on the fifth floor of City Hall by one of Johnson’s security officers on Dec. 26, 2013. Johnson closed the door when he and Muller entered the library and gave her “an unwelcome and close hug, pressing his body against claimant, then felt her along her torso,” according to the claim. “(The mayor) pressed his body against hers and asked her if she ‘felt it.’ He then attempted to kiss claimant. Claimant was forced to push herself away,” the claim states. Johnson then allegedly told Muller he “had a thing for her” for four years, according to the claim. Muller told Johnson she was married and the mayor “proposed that claimant enter into a sexual relationship with him, asking claimant if she was ‘game.’” Muller declined, according to the claim. Johnson “persisted” and told her not to answer immediately. He said he would walk by her desk in the city manager’s office and told her “if the answer was ‘yes’ claimant was to give him a thumbs up and if the answer was ‘no,’ a thumbs down.” The claim states that Muller’s supervisors at City Hall “failed to take appropriate action to protect” her from the alleged incident or “subsequent incidents of harassment.” The claim states Muller told “several representatives of the city regarding the conduct of Mr. Johnson on several separate occasions” and that those representatives “offered no helpful advice and took no action in response to receiving the information.” “Plaintiff alleges on information and belief that Mr. Johnson had acted inappropriately with respect to other city employees and representatives in the past and that representatives of the city knew, or had reason to know, of facts establishing this,” the claim states. “Notwithstanding this, city representatives did nothing to effectively deal with the situation or to protect plaintiff and similarly situated employees.” According to the claim, “the harassment continued.” In July 2014, Johnson told Muller, “Hey lady…you are avoiding me,” according to the claim. On Aug. 1, 2014, Johnson approached Muller at her desk and held her hands, according to the claim. The mayor “then manipulated her hands so her thumbs would go up and then down and said that he wanted to see if her thumbs worked saying ‘some people’s thumbs are funny.’ Claimant told Mr. Johnson that her thumbs worked fine but that they would never go up,” according to the claim. The claim states that Muller told her superiors of each interaction. Muller notified City Attorney James Sanchez of her allegations on Sept. 24, 2014, according to the claim. Sanchez “sent her the city’s internal discrimination complaint resolution guide and sexual harassment policy.” A week later, Muller “was required to attend a meeting with Mr. Johnson, during which time he made a point of establishing eye contact with her,” the claim states.

In 1997, Johnson signed a draft confidential settlement with a Phoenix teenager who had claimed the former NBA player molested her, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Bee in 2008. The agreement amount was $230,000, according to the document. The settlement stemmed from a 1996 investigation by Phoenix police into an allegation that Johnson, who was 29 at the time, disrobed in the presence of a 16-year-old girl and touched her inappropriately. The allegations were made to police by the girl’s therapist. Johnson denied the allegations and no criminal charges were filed in the case. In 2008, soon after Johnson launched his first mayoral campaign, a police report filed by a former teacher from Sacramento High School surfaced alleging that a 17-year-old student at the school told the teacher Johnson had approached her from behind, massaged her shoulders and touched her breasts. Sacramento police later said the girl recanted her story and found the allegation to be unfounded. Johnson founded the nonprofit St. HOPE organization that operates Sacramento High School as a charter school. A separate allegation made in teacher Erik Jones’ report charged that Johnson tried to get into bed with a volunteer from the Hood Corps program, an urban volunteer program that was part of St. Hope. Police did not investigate that allegation because the young woman was not a minor.

source: Sacramento Bee
During a press conference today, the mayor, who's married, denied he sexually harassed Estrellita. “The City of Sacramento takes any claim of harassment seriously, as it should. The incident described in the complaint simply never happened. Ever.” That's that.

Here's the complaint:

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