A judge has approved an amended judgment granting $250,000 to a female Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who alleged her training deputy sexually harassed her on the job, less than half the $850,000 awarded by a jury in May.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin had given lawyers for Deputy Concepcion Hernandez Garcia the option of taking the lower sum or face a new trial on damages. The judge found the $850,000 awarded by a jury on May 18 was excessive, saying it appeared it was less about compensating Garcia for her emotional distress than “impermissibly punishing the county for the actions of its sheriff’s deputies.”
Garcia’s dealings with her harasser lasted about two weeks before she was transferred to the Century Station, where she was treated with dignity and respect, according to the judge, who signed the revised judgment Monday.
In their court papers, Garcia’s lawyers stated their client was “reluctantly” accepting the reduced award.
In their court papers, attorneys for the county argued that Garcia’s version of the alleged harassment changed multiple times and was repeatedly contradicted by her own testimony.
Garcia started her training as a deputy in March 2018 at the East Los Angeles station, the suit stated. A deputy who is not a defendant in the case was assigned to train her, according to the complaint.
In July 2018, Garcia entered a home with her gun drawn looking for a suspect, the suit stated. The training deputy walked up behind her and put one hand on her buttocks, the suit alleged.
“Not only did (the trainer) grope plaintiff’s buttock, he thrust her forward at the very same time into an unsafe situation, effectively placing her life in danger,” the suit stated.
The trainer’s action made Garcia more vulnerable in an already hazardous situation, causing plaintiff to further experience fear and confusion, the suit states.
During subsequent interactions, the trainer went out of his way to brush against Garcia without justification, sometimes making insulting remarks when he realized she was offended, the suit stated.
The trainer embarrassed Garcia with remarks in front of four people arrested during a traffic stop, prompting the arrestees to laugh at her, the suit stated.
“In some instances, (the trainer) was joined by other deputies closely associated with him in these actions,” according to the suit.
Garcia filed an internal complaint against the trainer in mid-July 2018 and was immediately put on administrative leave, making it appear she did something wrong, the suit states. The trainer and the other deputies were not put on leave, the suit stated.
The LASD did not investigate Garcia’s complaints or interview her, the suit alleged.
Garcia, not wanting to continue being allegedly victimized by the trainer, was forced to seek a transfer to another station even though she would have preferred to remain in East Los Angeles because she grew up in the area and still lived nearby, the suit stated.