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Four female prosecutors are alleging in legal claims that they and a 16 year-old intern were sexually harassed by male friends of OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer, whom the DA is accused of moving into higher positions over the objections of his executive managers and background investigators.
The claims – all filed in recent weeks as a required step before suing – don’t allege Spitzer himself engaged in any harassment. But they do say he enabled it by hiring one friend and promoting another – Spitzer’s best man from his wedding – despite being urged not to by the DA’s aides and investigators.
“Two men, each with personal relationships to the District Attorney, acted with apparent impunity when it came to the pervasive sexual harassment of at least four adult women, and one teenage girl,” reads the most recent claim.
And in one of the most serious allegations levied at the county’s top prosecutor, the latest claim says Spitzer tried to retaliate against one of the harassment victims when she came forward about it.
“As County HR, the County-retained investigators, and OCDA executive management all know very well, Mr. Spitzer has already attempted to retaliate against one of these women,” states the most recent claim, by an unnamed female prosecutor in the DA’s office.
“The most powerful person in the OCDA’s Office attempting to hurt one of the least powerful, when done in direct response to a complaint of sexual harassment, is not only unethical, it is illegal,” it adds. No specifics were provided, though the claim says the allegations can be proven.
Spitzer didn’t return phone messages seeking comment for this story. But his spokeswoman pointed to a statement the DA issued earlier this month where condemned the alleged harassment and said his office will not tolerate it.
“I am utterly disgusted by the assertions contained in these claims as well as the stark realization that a few remnants of a culture of harassment that was allowed to thrive under the prior District Attorney have persisted. This is unacceptable,” Spitzer wrote in the Feb. 9 statement.
“Under my leadership, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office does not tolerate harassment of any kind in the workplace and will support anyone who believes he or she has been harassed.”
Spitzer’s spokeswoman is disputing that the younger man, accused of harassing a 16 year-old DA intern, was hired against the recommendation of background investigators.
“The extra-help [male] employee was subjected to an initial background check and then a second more comprehensive background prior to him being hired into a permanent, full-time attorney position,” said Kimberly Edds, the DA’s spokeswoman.
“When the background check revealed the employee was not suitable for employment by the OCDA, his conditional job offer was rescinded and his extra-help employment was immediately terminated,” she said.
The claims name one of the alleged harassers: Gary Logalbo, Spitzer’s best man from his wedding, who couldn’t be reached for comment.
As of Tuesday, Logalbo did not have contact information listed on his state bar profile, despite requirements that attorneys keep current contact info up to date.
The claims do not name the other accused harasser: a younger friend of Spitzer’s whom the DA allegedly hired as a prosecutor despite failing a background check for dishonesty. He is accused of harassing the 16 year-old intern.
Legal claims are an early step before filing a lawsuit against a government agency. Representing the alleged victims is Matt Murphy, a retired longtime prosecutor at the DA’s office who has criticized Spitzer for dropping a serial rape case against a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend.
The latest harassment claim says Logalbo’s inappropriate behavior was known for years among higher-ups at the DA’s office.
“OCDA managers had known about this behavior for years, the [senior assistant DAs] formally advised Mr. Spitzer not to promote Mr. Logalbo, and yet he did so anyway.”
Spitzer’s spokeswoman disputed that account, and says the DA immediately acted as soon as he learned of wrongdoing.
“We are incredibly disturbed by the allegations being made by several women in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. No one should have to suffer in silence and these women will be protected,” Edds added.
“As soon as allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behavior came to our attention, we handled them immediately and lawfully. This fact is indisputable.”
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.