Grand Jury Report Details Allegations of Sexual Harassment and Favoritism Within DA Investigations Unit

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas speaks during a court hearing. (Pool photo by the Orange County Register.)

Sex between supervisors and subordinates, sexual harassment, and perceptions of a “good old boys club” that receives promotions and favorable treatment may contribute to a hostile work environment within the Orange County District Attorney’s investigations bureau, according to an Orange County Grand Jury report released Tuesday.

The report, which did not try to confirm individual complaints, found a widespread perception within the investigations bureau that promotions and favorable treatment goes to employees who are part of a certain social circle and as a result of sexual relationships with superiors.

Employees told the Grand jury about multiple instances of sexual images sent via text and email; inappropriate sexual and racist jokes; unwelcome sexual behavior and touching between management and subordinates and sexually explicit comments made by coworkers.

According to the report, employees said they didn’t report harassment to Human Resources because they believed they would face retaliation, thought the complaint would be reported to their harassers or that nothing would be done.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said his office takes the allegations seriously and that the agency has a personnel investigation that has been ongoing for the past seven months.

The DA’s office has also sent an email to its employees reminding them of county policies, according to the statement.

The Grand Jury, however, notes in their report that when asked by grand jurors about the complaints, OCDA management often passed them off “as either false or inaccurate with comments that likened the actors to kids in a candy story when they gained positions of power over female subordinates or the behavior was passed off as just chasing skirts.”

“In interviews with management in the OCDA office there often did not seem to be recognition of the severity of the alleged behavior but rather a discounting and dismissive “boys-will-be-boys” mentality,” the report reads.

The report follows the filing of three complaints against the county by former investigators, including chief investigator Craig Hunter and investigators Tom Conklin and Abraham Santos.

Hunter alleged that Rackauckas interfered with multiple political corruption investigations on behalf of political allies and that Senior Assistant District Attorney Jim Tanizaki – whose son now works for the DA’s office as a prosecutor – is having an affair with a subordinate employee.

Conklin and Santos made similar allegations of interference into investigations by senior DA officials and that they faced retaliation for whistleblowing.

The Grand Jury report also details a shift in the culture of the investigation bureau from a support unit to prepare prosecutors for trial to a “separate law enforcement agency.” Prompted by what they see as increased hostility toward police and fears that investigators themselves may be vulnerable, investigators are now trained in subduing suspects, use of force, firearms and risk management.

But that has also sowed some “tension in the office that has led to early retirement, relocation, and hard feelings by some investigators.”

The report also notes that investigators’ are frequently rotated to different assignments, often without regard to their previous experience.

“Many investigators we spoke with feel the wishes of employees are largely ignored, and the [grand jury] heard of incidents in which the employees believe they were rotated as a retaliatory response to a complaint or concern they voiced,” the report states.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer, a likely candidate for District Attorney next year, said in a news release “I am urging my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to adopt the Grand Jury’s recommendation that we appoint an outside, independent investigator to examine why the OCDA and the County Human Resources Services Department are not being used in reporting misconduct within the OCDA office.”

Spitzer said he will ask the supervisors to give the independent investigator subpoena power

The full Grand Jury report can be viewed online. 

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Cynthia Ward

    …and in other news, the OC Grand Jury confirms the sky is indeed blue.

    • LFOldTimer

      This was only an attempt by the OCGJ to mitigate the blowback on their illegal informant jail scandal fake report conclusions they knew was coming. No coincidence they were released back to back in this precise order.

      Me? Not taking the head fake.

      The OCGJ should be investigated by the state or the Feds for ignoring smoking gun evidence.

  • Rosie Lee

    No wonder the DA’s office is such a mess it’s run by a bunch of immoral cronies.

  • Roger Gill

    This is disgusting. I don’t know how the DA sleeps at night. One of the worst elected officials in our state’s history.

    • verifiedsane

      These crooks sleep just fine snuggled up right next to the devil…..you would be required to have a conscience & the smallest fragment of integrity to have it effect one’s sleep…..

  • Ed Romero

    This is nothing new at the County of Orange. I remember this Female that had Sex with 36 Deputies at a Convention, on Monday morning I asked the Sgt. where are all those Deputies going and he replied “they all had Sex with (withholding her name), so they are on the way to the Health Department just in case. I remember this CEO that couldn’t keep a Secretary, if the Secretary didn’t co-operate they were forced to resign but first had to sign a document that they would not talk about the incident with the CEO, I know of 4 females that found themselves in that situation. Then there were those Lesbians that Hire and Promoted their Lesbian friends to positions that should of gone to more qualified applicants. There was this one Lesbian that use to follow the young female into the restroom and get down on her knees and PEEK under that door, she had so many Sexual Harassment Complaints lodged against her that she had to be removed from the position and sent to our Records Unit where she continue her Nasty Dirty Behavior while on duty. Then there was all those members of our Bible Study Group that had to resign because they were having Sex with the Clients. Then there was that Gay Deputy Probation Officer that couldn’t get enough of those Young Mexican Boys and Men, he finally was fired after he took one of the boys to a Hotel and had Sex with him, he advised his parents, they Gay Deputy Probation Officer had been doing that for years and years and NO ONE would do a thing about. Then there was that Chief Probation Officer that would hang out at the Lesbian Bar in Garden Grove, she would be there with most of her Lesbian Drug Abusing County Employees, she would write out a check to the Bar Owner, the doors would be Locked, the music turned up, the lights turned off and a MATTRESS thrown on the Pool Table. Then were those Deputy Sheriff’s having Sex with that 15 year old Fire Scout and cost the O C Taxpayers a 9 MILLION Dollar Court Settlement, then there was Racist in the Records Unit that also cost the O C Taxpayers another 4.5 MILLION Dollar Court Settlement. So you see there is nothing new about Sexual Harassment while being employed by the County of Orange.

  • Paul Lucas

    OCDA is an organized crime syndicate.

  • verifiedsane

    The DA’s office is crumbling from corruption and misconduct….as the Sheriff’s office sees the writing on the wall while grabbing for their golden retirement pension parachutes before federal criminal indictments get handed down …Orange County sheriff Sandra Hutchens announces plans to retire – http://www.ocregister.com/2017/06/27/sheriff-sandra-hutchens-announces-plans-to-retire/

    • LFOldTimer

      Obviously, she wants to spend more time in the kitchen at home that’s not quite so hot. 😉

      I’m waiting for a stress disability leave like we saw from the Fullerton police chief vis-à-vis Kelly Thomas.

      In medical terminology they call it “Chief’s Disease”.

  • RyanCantor

    “The report, which did not try to confirm individual complaints . . .”

    Um, why the heck not?

    Anyway, obviously just a few rouge Investigators and Attorneys. Any idea of a culture or official program supporting sexual harassment is just a myth.

    Enough. Orange County needs a new DA.

    • john smead

      these allegations, if true, would represent violations that the GJ is not authorized to investigate. the GJ does not conduct criminal investigations just civil ones. they recommended that an full investigation be undertaken by an independent agency. if you read the full reports on the jail escape, the informant issue and then the hostile work place it seems clear that the Gj nailed the OCSD and the OCDA where needed. They dont find things that are not there when they look.