A lawsuit filed against Cathedral City and its former police chief over sexual harassment allegations involving the chief was settled for $500,000, court documents obtained Tuesday show.
Loran Candelas, a former Cathedral City Police Department dispatcher, filed the lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court in July 2019, naming the city and former police Chief Travis Walker as defendants.
The filing came two months after Walker was placed on leave for what city officials have only described as a personnel matter.
In a settlement agreement signed in April and obtained by City News Service Tuesday, Cathedral City agreed to pay the $500,000, and both the city and Walker did not admit to any guilt in the case, the document states.
Walker’s attorney, Saku Ethir, could not be reached for comment. Cathedral City spokesman Chris Parman referred CNS to the settlement agreement when asked for comment on the case.
Candelas alleged in the lawsuit Walker harassed her “on at least six to eight separate occasions,” including one instance in which he allegedly forced himself on her sexually in an Indian Wells hotel room during a law enforcement conference. She claimed in the suit she was eventually able to push him off and leave the room.
“After the encounter in Defendant Walker’s hotel room, (Candelas) was numb. She did not know what to do. Because she needed her job, she continued to work for the Cathedral City Police Department,” the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, Walker continued to fondle and grab Candelas after the hotel room encounter, including one instance inside his office in which he allegedly opened his pants and placed his genitals in her hand.
John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, previously said prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Walker following an investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Walker, who became police chief in November 2017, officially parted ways with the city in November after he had been on administrative leave for six months. Former Cathedral City police Chief George Crum returned to the city to lead the department in April.
“A separation of employment has occurred between Police Chief Travis Walker and the city of Cathedral City,” city spokesman Parman said at the time. “No further comment can be publicly announced at this time as the city is still subject to ongoing litigation and personnel matters.”
Ethir, Walker’s attorney, also released a statement at the time, saying the city and the chief reached a “mutual separation agreement,” but would not comment any further.
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