One Year Ago Today (February 6, 2021)…Three women have filed legal claims with Orange County alleging they were harassed by a senior prosecutor who resigned in December.
The women allege a variety of “boorish” behavior, including racist comments, by former Senior Deputy District Attorney Gary Logalbo, much of it during his time supervising recent law school graduates at the courthouse in Fullerton, according to documents obtained Friday.
Messages left with Logalbo were not returned.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer issued a statement saying he was “utterly disgusted” by the allegations made in the legal claims, which are legally required precursors if a lawsuit is intended to be filed against a government agency.
A fourth woman is also expected to make a claim, Spitzer said.
One accuser who is Muslim and a refugee from Afghanistan, alleged Logalbo once told her “it’s good to know he is not a terrorist,” when she told him her father works with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. She initially chalked it up to a bad joke, according to the claim.
However, she further alleged, that days later during a discussion of a criminal case in the office that Logalbo referred to an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office on the case as a “terrorist.”
The attorney was identified in the claim as Deputy Public Defender Mohammad Abuershaid, who represented the accused in the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
The claim, filed by retired Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, who is representing the three accusers, said, “Despite a demonstrable history of sexual harassment that was both actually and constructively known by executive management with the District Attorney’s Office, in December of 2019, Gary Logalbo was promoted to the position of Head of Court for the North Justice Center” in Fullerton.
Murphy alleges Logalbo, who was the best man at Spitzer’s wedding, grew “more bold, pervasive and increasingly sexual in nature” with the harassment.
The woman said Logalbo pulled alongside her as she walked to her car one evening and said, “Hey, baby, how much do you charge?”
In September, he asked her for a ride to a car dealership and when she told him she needed a moment to clear out some items in the passenger seat, he allegedly said, “Why? Are your panties in the car? Because if they are, I’ll wear them on top of my head like a hat.”
In November 2020, Logalbo was promoted to senior assistant district attorney, Murphy said. That prompted the woman to file a complaint, Murphy said in the claim.
The woman filed it with her union because otherwise she would have had to file it with Logalbo, Murphy said.
Human resources officials were notified on Nov. 10, Murphy said. But Logalbo “continued to participate in the day-to-day operations of the OCDA for another five weeks.”
Another accuser said Logalbo adjusted a tag sticking out of her sports-bra after a lunch time workout and did it again about a month later.
In August 2020, he allegedly took a photo of her bending over saying, “This one is for the spank bank, I’ll use it later,” the claim alleges.
Another woman alleged that while they attended a retirement party of a colleague he whispered in her air, “If there wasn’t anyone here right now I would grab your ass,” according to the claim.
There appears to be a dispute regarding the timeline of when complaints were filed, when investigations began and when Logalbo was placed on administrative leave and retired.
According to the complaints, Assistant District Attorney Shawn Nelson sent an email to staff on Dec. 15 announcing that Logalbo “has elected to retire… effective immediately.”
In Spitzer’s statement, he said the three women “came forward in the wake of an investigation that was self-initiated” by his office “as a result of a comment regarding alleged misconduct made on Nov. 4, 2020, by a probationary employee who had been terminated the day before.”
That employee was not one of the accusers, Spitzer said.
Spitzer said he “immediately” ordered a “preliminary investigation” by his office’s Human Resources department and ordered that the county’s Equal Employment Opportunity Access program be notified right away.
“Despite repeated attempts by the OCDA HR director to contact EEO, it took nearly two weeks for them to respond,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer said Logalbo went on a preplanned vacation from Nov. 17-30 and when he returned to work on Dec. 1 he was working at the District Attorney’s headquarters in Santa Ana and was not supervising anyone anymore.
Spitzer said the county’s main Human Resources department took over the investigation on Dec. 9.
Logalbo was placed on administrative leave on Dec. 11 and submitted his resignation that same day and did not return to work, the district attorney said.
Spitzer also denied that Logalbo was his “best friend.” He did acknowledge that Logalbo had been best man at his wedding.
He also denied witnessing any of the alleged misconduct or “anything similar” with Logalbo.
Spitzer said efforts are being made to step up harassment training for his staff.
A top Orange County executive, who requested anonymity, disputed Spitzer’s timeline.
The executive said in November the District Attorney’s Human Resources office called the main Human Resources office to ask if there was anything in Logalbo’s file. It wasn’t until December that the District Attorney’s human resources office called the central human resources department to request a meeting, the executive said.
The main human resources department called back and left a message, but did not hear back for another few days until the two offices connected on Dec. 9. Until that point, Spitzer’s office never indicated there was an issue that demanded an immediate investigation, the executive said.
The main human resources department recommended placing Logalbo on administrative leave on Dec. 10, but Spitzer’s human resources department argued for letting him remain on vacation, the executive said.