Whatever honeymoon was in effect between L.A. County’s new sheriff and Los Angeles County Supervisors seems to have ended.
In a rare public confrontation with Los Angeles County’s elected sheriff, the county’s governing body is expected to vote Tuesday on a motion that would challenge the recent reinstatement of a deputy sheriff who was fired in connection with allegations of domestic abuse and stalking, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has little direct control over the county’s top cop. But Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s rehiring of a fired deputy who worked on his campaign has sparked widespread criticism among watchdogs and prompted action by two supervisors.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, the lead author on the motion, along with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, cited “grave concerns” over the reinstatement and expressed alarm over Villanueva’s comments last week that the move was justified because the deputy’s accuser waited to come forward and was hesitant to testify.
“The reinstatement and the reasoning for it sends a disturbing message that a crime victim should not be believed based on the timing of the allegations and one person’s doubt about his or her credibility,” the motion says, according to The Times. “This approach can further discourage victims from coming forward who are already reluctant to report such crimes for a variety of reasons, including shame, self-doubt and fear.”
The motion expected to be voted on Tuesday calls for the county’s five supervisors to send a joint letter to Villanueva expressing their concern and asking the sheriff to reconsider the reinstatement. It would also direct county counsel to examine the procedures the supervisors can take in navigating conflicts with the sheriff.
Sheriff’s Department spokesman Capt. Darren Harris said Villanueva is aware of the motion. He did not comment further.
The Times reported this month that Caren Carl Mandoyan was fired in 2016 by then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell after a fellow deputy alleged Mandoyan grabbed her by the neck, tried to break into her home twice, sent her harassing text messages and admitted to listening to her conversations. A county appeals board heard evidence in the case and upheld Mandoyan’s dismissal.
Prosecutors investigated the woman’s claims and looked at video evidence in the case but declined to charge Mandoyan with intimate partner violence. Mandoyan did not respond to requests for comment.
Mandoyan, who appeared onstage at Villanueva’s swearing-in, served as his driver and played a key role in persuading rank-and-file deputies to rally behind Villanueva’s long-shot bid. The motion does not mention Mandoyan by name, but a spokeswoman for Barger confirmed he is the deputy referred to in the document.
Speaking before the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission for the first time last week, Villanueva defended the reinstatement. He questioned the credibility of the accuser, saying the fact that she waited nearly a year to report her claims and her decision to quit the department just before she was about to testify were “big warning signs.”
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