Thursday, August 15, 2002
Antonovich to Ask for Investigation Into Deputy Accused of Sex Harassment
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Supervisor Michael Antonovich is asking for an investigation into why a sheriff’s deputy could soon be patrolling the streets after the county paid $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against him.
Deputy John C. Penney, a 19-year department veteran currently assigned to lockup in the Criminal Courts Building downtown, is scheduled to appear at patrol school at the Cresenta Valley Sheriff’s Station on Monday. The move comes just two weeks after the county agreed to pay to settle a court reporter’s claim that the 47-year-old deputy repeatedly kissed and hugged her and massaged her neck, against her wishes, when they where alone together at the Burbank courthouse.
An investigation turned up two other court reporters’ harassment complaints against Penney.
An Antonovich spokeswoman said the supervisor plans to ask for an investigation into Penney’s situation during the closed session portion of Tuesday’s board meeting. All county personnel matters must discussed in closed session.
Court reporter Jeanette Soto accused Penney of stalking her and of frequently commenting on the way she was dressed and telling her he hoped she would wear high heels more often, according to the claim she filed with the county.
Penney also suggested that he and Soto have sex on the bean bag in her office and made lewd comments to her on several occasions saying, among other things, “All right, I’ll leave [your office] so that you can get naked.”
After the Soto incident, Penney was transferred to a bailiff position at the Pasadena courthouse, where he remained until early this year, county officials said. He was then transferred to Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Courthouse in Monterey Park and then to his current assignment at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center downtown.
Penney, according to the county report, denied that he did anything wrong and said he was unaware that any contact he had with Soto was unwelcome.
While the department’s Internal Affairs division was investigating Soto’s claims, two other court reporters came forward with similar allegations.
“There’s cause for concern,” Soto said.
Sheriff’s Department officials first recommended that Penney be fired because of the Soto incident, but the deputy appealed to his division chief, Roy Pugh, and was given a reduction to 30 days suspension, county officials said.
Penney did not respond to attempts to contact him.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company