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Home / Kimberly Edds

OCDA responds to 3 latest sexual harassment suits

By PAUL ANDERSON

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer did everything he could to support and encourage women to come forward with sexual harassment claims about a now-retired prosecutor, a spokeswoman said Thursday in response to a trio of new lawsuits from prosecutors in the office.

“The allegations of harassment were sustained against Gary LoGalbo,” Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, said, referring to a report from an outside law firm hired by the County Counsel’s Office to review whether the sexual harassment allegations violated county policy.

“The allegations that District Attorney Spitzer protected LoGalbo in any way or retaliated against anyone who reported harassment was completely unfounded by the outside investigator,” Edds said. “In fact he did everything he could do to not only support the victims of LoGalbo and encourage any and all victims of harassment to come forward.”

The April 28, 2021, report by attorney Elisabeth A. Frater, however, concluded that an allegation from one of LoGalbo’s accusers that she was subjected to retaliation was unsubstantiated only because Spitzer did not follow through on a threat to have her written up for his assertion that she had lied.

That accuser was a newly hired prosecutor who was still on probation when she came forward with claims about LoGalbo — who was the best man at Spitzer’s wedding. She was one of the prosecutors who filed suit on Wednesday.

According to Frater’s report, Spitzer confronted the woman’s supervisor at the West Justice Center in Westminster, saying she needed to be disciplined for an email she sent to Spitzer alleging sexual harassment, according to Frater.

“Spitzer stated the behavior was not acceptable and it needed to be reported,” Frater wrote.

The supervisor told Spitzer he could not discipline her based on instructions he received from human resources, after which “Spitzer told him either he needed to think about it or they needed to discuss it further,” Frater wrote.

In January 2021, Spitzer reiterated to a group of managers in his office that the accuser “had lied and was untruthful in her email reporting sexual harassment,” Frater wrote. The accuser’s supervisors alerted human resources, and shortly after that, Spitzer signed off on a positive review of the accuser and she cleared probation, according to Frater’s report.

In August 2021, Frater conducted a follow-up investigation when a complaint was filed about Spitzer’s distribution of the original report to everyone in the District Attorney’s Office. Frater found that it was a violation of county’s policies.

She said distributing the report to every employee “grossly exceeded a need-to-know basis, and flagrantly defied the statement in the county policy that `complaints will be kept as confidential as possible,”‘ Frater wrote. “By sending the report to every employee at the OCDA, Mr. Spitzer caused unjustified embarrassment or indignity to the witnesses.”

The District Attorney’s Office has challenged that assertion, saying the county counsel’s office — not Spitzer — proclaimed the report a public record after it had been provided to the media.

The three lawsuits filed Wednesday bring the total to seven women and one man suing the county over allegations that LoGalbo would routinely make racist and sexually charged comments to colleagues in the office.

LoGalbo declined to comment.

An unnamed manager who filed one of the new lawsuits alleged she was passed over for promotions by four men and that LoGalbo was paid more than the plaintiff even though they had the same assignment.

The woman alleged that one night while they were working late, LoGalbo came into her office and took her picture, which he explained was for his “spank bank.”

She also claims that she “heard racially harassing comments” at the district attorney’s offices.

“Mr. LoGalbo made statements to (the plaintiff) that cases should be assigned based on the race of the defense attorney, prosecutor and defendant,” the lawsuit alleges. “Mr. Spitzer also accused plaintiff of being afraid to prosecute a defendant simply because of the defendant’s race.”

The woman also alleged that when the outside law firm was hired to investigate the sexual harassment claims, Spitzer called the plaintiff “to influence her testimony, requesting she not file a claim against him.”

Frater’s probe found there was a hostile work environment in the District Attorney’s Office. The plaintiff claims in her suit she expected her anonymity to be protected in the investigation, but when Spitzer sent a copy of the report to everyone in his office, it exposed her identity to her co-workers and she was subjected to mocking.

The woman also contends that Spitzer “has taken subtle adverse employment actions against plaintiff that has adversely affected her job performance and/or ability for advancement within the OCDA. For instance, Mr. Spitzer falsely accused plaintiff of not keeping him informed on her cases in a room full of OCDA managers and has also publicly accused plaintiff of being a liar for statements she made in the investigation into Mr. LoGalbo.”

The lawsuit claims LoGalbo would make “offensive and inappropriate comments to” the plaintiff daily. LoGalbo bought her bottles of wine with names like “Barefoot” and “Menage a Trois,” and he would laugh, saying, “I thought you’d like that,” according to the lawsuit.

In addition to claims of discrimination and harassment, the lawsuits allege retaliation and failure by the county to take action to stop the offenses.

Another of the suits filed Wednesday — on behalf of a woman who has worked for the office since April 2016 — alleged that LoGalbo would make offensive comments to her on a daily basis, such as declaring he knew the color of her underwear and that he dreamt about her in the nude.

A third woman, who has worked for the office since August 2019, alleged in her lawsuit that LoGalbo would make inappropriate sexually or racially charged comments daily, including misogynist slurs against women attorneys and judges.

She also accused LoGalbo of sharing “inappropriate videos” with her, including one that “showed a number of naked Asian couples in military formation having sexual intercourse, with the title of the video being ‘China Restocking the Shelves,'” according to the suit.

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