Over objections from lawyers representing Cal State Los Angeles, a judge ruled Tuesday that the university’s general counsel must attend a deposition sought by the attorney for a former administrator who filed a sexual harassment case against the school and ex-athletic director Mike Garrett.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko said that lawyer Nancy Abrolat, who represents former CSULA senior associate athletic director Sheila Hudson, can ask Victor King questions so long as they are not protected by the attorney-client privilege. CSULA lawyers objected to the motion to depose King, maintaining in their court papers that conversations between school employees are protected. They also stated that other high-ranking university members have been offered for depositions in Hudson’s lawsuit, including President William Covino and Vice President Jose Gomez.
Ongkeko recommended that the lawyers choose a discovery referee to determine what questions King can answer if objections are raised. He suggested that the two sides split the cost of the referee and said he would choose the person from a list of candidates submitted to him if the parties cannot agree on a selection.
Ongkeko agreed to hold a hearing July 12 to further address defense attorney Corina Valderrama’s concerns about King’s testimony and the attorney-client privilege.
Abrolat stated in her court papers that she wants to question King about areas in which he had a conflict with Hudson, which she said are not protected by the attorney-client privilege.
“Further, Mr. King threatened Dr. Hudson with insubordination … because she refused to intimidate an employee who complained about sexual harassment,” Abrolat stated in her court papers.
King denied that accusation in a statement to MyNewsLA.com.
Hudson sued CSULA and Garrett last Aug. 29, alleging employment violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Hudson suit also alleges that Garrett lacked many capabilities necessary to do his job as CSULA’s athletic director, a position he held for about a year. The former USC football star previously held the same title at his alma mater.
According to the Hudson suit, Garrett referred to female employees, including Hudson, as “Babe,” “Sweetheart,” “Love” and “Legs” during his relatively brief tenure as the CSULA athletic director. He left the university in 2016.
The Hudson complaint further states that Garrett had other shortcomings and began delegating his job responsibilities “onto the female employees in the athletic department, increasing their workload, but not their compensation.”
Hudson was herself sued May 26 by the CSU Board of Trustees and three CSULA employees, who allege she secretly recorded conversations with them in 2016. Abrolat said Tuesday that Hudson was fired May 24 over those allegations and that her client may soon file a cross-complaint in that case. She declined to comment further on the university’s allegations.
Hudson, who was hired by the school in October 2002, admitted during a deposition in her own case that she used her cell phone to record conversations with the three individual plaintiffs as well as one with Jose Gomez, CSULA’s executive vice president and CEO, who is not a plaintiff, the university suit alleges.
–City News Service
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