One Year Ago Today (February 24, 2021)…An Orange County prosecutor has filed a legal claim with the county — joining three others who previously filed similar claims — alleging she was harassed by a senior prosecutor who has since resigned and witnessed another attorney in the office harass a 16-year-old intern, documents obtained show.
The legal claim, which is dated Feb. 16, also alleges that Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer released an unredacted version of a legal claim made by three other women in order to “control the public narrative of this case.”
A legal claim is a necessary precursor to a lawsuit against a government agency. The county could either reach a settlement on the claim or deny it, triggering a lawsuit.
The fourth woman’s claim — like those filed by the other three women — mostly focuses on allegations of sexual harassment by former Senior Assistant District Attorney Gary Logalbo, who resigned in December. The newest claim, however, also involves allegations of harassment against a high school intern by an unnamed attorney hired by Spitzer.
Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for Spitzer, said her office was “incredibly disturbed by the allegations being made by several women in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. No one should have to suffer in silence and these women will be protected.”
Edds added, “As soon as allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behavior came to our attention, we handled them immediately and lawfully. This fact is indisputable.”
Attorney Matt Murphy, a retired Orange County senior prosecutor who represents the women, said the fourth claimant was reticent to come forward after Spitzer issued a statement on Feb. 4 regarding the allegations of the other three.
Murphy alleged the D.A.’s statement was “brimming with prepared quotes, absurd denials, and demonstrably false timelines, highly sensitive information… This was an obvious attempt by the District Attorney to control the public narrative of this case. By leaking the story in as favorable a light as possible, Mr. Spitzer clearly hoped to blunt some of the explosiveness of this evidence should the full story become known to the public. He did this in complete disregard for the privacy interests of the women involved.”
Murphy said Spitzer released the claims before the county could properly consider the complaint or requests to obtain it through a Public Records Act request. City News Service obtained the fourth claim from the county through a Public Records Act request.
Murphy said the release of details of the allegations “at this nascent state in these proceedings has exposed these women to even greater levels of anxiety, ostracization and ridicule.”
Murphy also said at least two other women who work in the North Justice Center in Fullerton are prepared to be witnesses to sexual harassment dating back to 1999.
According to the women, Logalbo was nicknamed “Scary Gary” because of alleged “pervasive sexual harassment they had experienced, which had begun over 20 years ago,” Murphy said. He said they are barred from pursuing claims because the allegations date back too far.
City News Service reached out to Logalbo after the prior legal claim was filed earlier this month and Logalbo declined to comment at that time.
Murphy claimed “senior assistants” had advised Spitzer against promoting Logalbo, who was best man at the D.A.’s wedding, because managers in the office “had known about this behavior for years.”
Murphy also alleged that Spitzer “has already attempted to retaliate against” one of the claimants. He did not provide any specifics of that allegation, but, he added, “We can prove it.”
When Spitzer took office in January 2019, “one of his first orders of business was to promote into management his close friend, Gary Logalbo,” Murphy said. He said Spitzer also “decided to hire another attorney who often spoke of his close relationship to Mr. Spitzer.”
“This individual had donated money, volunteered for Mr. Spitzer’s election campaign, and even briefly represented him during contempt proceedings in the Robicheaux-Riley rape case out of Newport Beach,” Murphy said, referring to a high-profile case involving a doctor and his girlfriend accused of sexually assaulting several women.
Senior assistants on Spitzer’s “executive team” advised against hiring the attorney, whose background check wasn’t yet completed, Murphy said. The attorney was sworn in as a “probationary” prosecutor on a “limited term” contract, he said.
The attorney — “in an ironic, double-layered blend of nepotism” — was supervised by Logalbo, Murphy said.
Details of the alleged harassment against the 16-year-old intern were scant, but Murphy alleged the attorney “subjected” her “to a series of inappropriate and `creepy’ actions.”
The fourth woman to file a legal claim began working for the D.A.’s office in August 2018 and “observed this conduct” and lodged a complaint to management, Murphy said.
Spitzer was again advised not to keep the attorney on the payroll after more of his background check was done, but Spitzer “personally intervened on this man’s behalf and re-tasked the Investigative Bureau with a more thorough investigation,” Murphy said, adding that Assistant District Attorney Shawn Nelson “explained that they wished to `pass him through.”’
For months, the attorney “continued to boast of his relationship with Mr. Spitzer as he continued to work for the OCDA,” Murphy alleged, adding that Spitzer gave the attorney a “very affectionate hug” during the office’s annual holiday party.
Five months after the complaint alleging harassment of the teen was lodged, Logalbo recommended the attorney be hired on a permanent basis, according to Murphy.
A more detailed background check later showed the attorney failed to list two previous jobs on his resume, Murphy said.
“Investigators reported that they were told this individual had been fired from one job for dishonesty, and from the other for using racial slurs in the workplace,” Murphy said.
The attorney denied he had “lied or ever used racial epithets” but did acknowledge he had been fired from the jobs and that he left the positions off of his application, Murphy said. The attorney was let go six months after the complaint of harassment was filed, he said.
The fourth claimant alleges Logalbo subjected her to leering and lewd comments as he supervised her, according to Murphy.
For example, during late summer or early fall 2019 when she returned from court to her office, she took off her suit jacket, prompting Logalbo, who was passing by, to say, “Oh, how much for the show?,” Murphy
The woman sought Logalbo’s counsel on a “sexual annoyance of a child” case last October, and that after discussing how to handle it, he allegedly said, “Talking about all this sex stuff makes me horny,” according to Murphy.
Logalbo was promoted in October to Senior Assistant District Attorney, and during a celebratory party at a bar in Fullerton, he allegedly told a co-worker that he “couldn’t wait to press his bare butt cheeks against the window” of her new office, Murphy said.
Logalbo also allegedly joked that “he planned to leave a pornographic magazine on the desk of Shawn Nelson,” Murphy said.
“These comments were made in the immediate presence of Mr. Nelson himself,” he said. “In addition, with Mr. Spitzer standing perhaps 10 feet away, (the fourth claimant) watched as Mr. Logalbo commented to the pregnant wife of a subordinate male deputy district attorney, `So… how did that happen? ”’
Spitzer has downplayed his friendship with Logalbo, but during the October gathering he “spoke glowingly of his friendship with Mr. Logalbo” and told the employees during a speech in Logalbo’s honor that he was his “best friend” and “best man” at Spitzer’s wedding, Murphy said.
Despite a formal complaint lodged Nov. 4 by one of the accusers, Logalbo was involved in interviews for promotions of prosecutors, including another of the accusers on Dec. 7, Murphy said. That woman did not get the promotion, he said.
Edds said “the instant an allegation of harassment was made against a manager in November 2020, an investigation was initiated by the OCDA. The employee accused of harassment was immediately put on leave after an initial investigation by OCDA. The employee chose to resign from the office during the ongoing investigation.”
Spitzer’s office has initiated more anti-harassment training for managers, and he has pledged to participate in training programs twice more often than required by state law, Edds said.
Logalbo “spent 22 years in the OCDA and never had any allegation of misconduct reported by anyone to the OCDA Human Resources Department, County HR, or the county’s EEO,” Edds said. “In fact, a review of the manager’s personnel files revealed nothing but outstanding performance reviews.”
The other attorney in the legal claim was let go following background checks that determined he was “not suitable for employment by the OCDA,” Edds said.
“This is exactly how the system is supposed to work,” she said. `The Orange County District Attorney’s Office does not tolerate harassment of any kind in the workplace. We will support anyone who believes he or she has been harassed. District Attorney Spitzer has an established track record of holding his employees accountable regardless of any pre-existing relationship they may have with him, including the two former employees cited in this claim. Any allegation of harassment in the workplace — irrespective of the timing, potential motive, or interpersonal relationships — has and will continue to be fully and thoroughly investigated by the OCDA.”