OC Supervisor Candidate Accused of Smearing Woman Who Alleged Rape by Ex-Assemblyman

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Then-Sen. John Moorlach speaks at a Be Well OC mental health campus ceremony in Orange on Oct. 16, 2019.

A former legislative staffer to OC supervisor candidate John Moorlach is accusing him of smearing her reputation last month after she publicly alleged she was raped by former Assemblyman Bill Brough.

Patricia “Trish” Todd, who worked for Moorlach as a senior legislative staffer when he served as a state senator, came forward publicly last month – and filed a police report – saying she was sexually assaulted in 2015 by Brough, who has not returned messages for comment.

Moorlach publicly said last month that he believes Todd’s rape allegations against Brough.

But when he was asked about allegations that his chief of staff told Todd not to report the rape allegations, Moorlach told the Orange County Register during an editorial endorsement meeting that Todd was a “disgruntled” employee who was not his “best hire.”

Todd says that was an attempt to smear her reputation.

“[Moorlach] told the Orange County Register Editorial Board he was not supportive of hiring me and he had to deal with poor performance by me and these were documented in my personnel file,” Todd said in a statement this week.

“[Moorlach] knew what I knew. That was a complete lie,” Todd added. “He also could not do anything to correct the record because despite my giving him a complete release to disclose my personnel file, there was not anything in there he claimed was in there.”

Through a representative, Todd released documents from her personnel file – including a letter from Moorlach saying “her skill set is far advanced,” so she should be paid an amount that’s “higher than her current salary would allow.”

Moorlach declined to comment Thursday on Todd’s allegations about how he handled her rape claims, and whether he feels he handled the situation appropriately.

“I’ve been counseled not to talk,” Moorlach told Voice of OC.

Tim Clark, who was Moorlach’s chief of staff at the time of the alleged rape, has confirmed Todd told him about the alleged rape shortly after it happened. But Clark has denied asking her to keep quiet.

The allegations against Moorlach – who is endorsed by the county Republican Party in the upcoming special election – have roiled an upcoming election that has drawn multiple Republican challengers for the 2nd District supervisor seat.

The other GOP candidates include Huntington Beach Councilman Mike Posey, Newport Beach Councilman Kevin Muldoon, and Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo.

Orange County GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker, who has been trying to unite Republican voters around Moorlach, didn’t return phone messages seeking comment on the allegations and whether the party is investigating.

“We must coalesce behind one Republican candidate to hold this critical seat. That Republican is John Moorlach,” Whitaker said in a message to party members early last month.

“We will be deploying an aggressive field and digital program in support of John Moorlach and secure this seat for Republicans.”

Local Democratic Party leaders are calling on the GOP to revoke its endorsement of Moorlach.

“By continuing to stand with John Moorlach despite months of overwhelming allegations, the OC GOP is perpetuating a toxic attitude toward women,” said Ada Briceño, chairwoman of the Orange County Democratic Party, in a statement earlier this week.

“It’s wrong, and it’s up to all of us to change it. The OC GOP should rescind its endorsement of John Moorlach; it is the morally responsible thing to do,” she continued.

Moorlach’s “professional retribution” against Todd makes him “unfit to represent any Orange County resident in public office,” she added.

In his opinion piece published Dec. 12, Moorlach said he believes Todd’s accusations against Brough but that he didn’t know about it until five years later when he heard a rumor about it.

“I believe her, and I’m grieved by the pain she carries to this day,” Moorlach said in the opinion piece, regarding Todd’s rape claim against Brough. 

“You can only look with respect at the bravery of any woman who files charges alleging rape and willingly suffers that deep loss of privacy to stop a criminal.”

Three days later, Moorlach described Todd to the Register as a “disgruntled” employee who was “assertive,” “strong willed” and not his “best hire.”

Brough has faced sexual misconduct allegations from at least five other women, and didn’t return phone messages from Voice of OC seeking comment.

Sacramento police confirmed they’re investigating Todd’s sexual assault allegations against Brough.

“Our detectives are aware of that report and it’s currently active at this point,” Officer Karl Chan told Voice of OC on Thursday. The allegations were brought to Sacramento detectives at the beginning of December, he added.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at [email protected].