Confidential Memos Allege Supervisor Sexually Harassed Female Prosecutor - NBC Southern California

Confidential Memos Allege Supervisor Sexually Harassed Female Prosecutor

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    A series of confidential memos sent to internal affairs investigators at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office claim a female prosecutor was subjected to several years of sexual harassment by a male supervisor, and DA's Office administrators were slow to respond.

    "I am writing this memorandum on behalf of myself, and the other women in the … unit who are afraid of this mentally disturbed predator," a Deputy District Attorney wrote in February 2018, while urging DA's office managers to obtain a restraining order to protect the prosecutor who was the target of the alleged harassment.

    NBC4 has withheld the name of the specific DA unit.

    "Many of the female attorneys who work in the … unit do not feel safe in their respective workplaces," she wrote.

    The three memos obtained by NBC4 have led to a DA's Office administrative investigation of the supervisor, who's now on leave, according to the District Attorney's Office.

    The supervisor did not immediately return our request for comment.

    "These are isolated incidents," the DA's Office said in a prepared statement sent in response to questions from NBC4. "District Attorney Jackie Lacey is committed to fostering a safe and professional atmosphere.

    In a Jan. 8 message, Lacey urged employees to notify their supervisors of improper workplace conduct as soon as it occurs," the statement said.

    The Office declined to say when the supervisor was placed on leave and declined address the specific incidents and issues outlined in the memos.

    "Allegations of criminal conduct are referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation.

    As to particular individuals, we cannot comment on personnel matters," the statement said.

    The first of the memos was circulated in September 2017, around the time LA County attorneys were negotiating the settlement of an unrelated sexual harassment lawsuit filed by two Major Crimes Division prosecutors, who accused a unit supervisor of unwanted touching and of making graphic sexual comments and gestures.

    The County later paid Deputy District Attorneys Beth Silverman and Tannaz Mokayef about $700,000 to resolve the lawsuit before a trial, and the accused supervisor, Gary Hearnsberger, retired.

    Hearnsberger denied the allegations, telling the LA Times in 2015 he was "being charged with a crime I didn't commit."

    The two cases surfaced as the DA's office announced it was forming a special task force to consider filing criminal charges in entertainment industry sexual harassment and assault cases.

    "In response to the widespread allegations of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, I have established a task force of specially trained deputy district attorneys who are ready to evaluate these cases if any are referred to my office for criminal prosecution," Jackie Lacey said. "I have assigned the group of veteran sex crimes prosecutors to work together to ensure a uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution."

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