The backstory behind former Mono County CAO Jim Leddy’s sudden departure.
Former Mono County Administrator (CAO) Jim Leddy allegedly looked down a county employee’s blouse, tried to guess her bra size, asked her if she wanted to take a bath with him, invited her to a threesome, and wanted to make a check out to her “for sex.”
These claims are based on testimony made by the victim, “Jane” to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The Sheet obtained the complaint made by “Jane” via a public records request to the DFEH.
After the complaint was made, the victim (whom we will call Jane in this story) was transferred out of the CAO’s office. The CAO “resigned” two months later.
Leddy was pulling down $160,000 a year (plus benefits) running the County, but found time to allegedly sexually harass, discriminate and send profane and lewd messages via cell phone to a County employee on a weekly basis from June 2013, the month he started the job, to February 2015, when the victim finally filed a complaint with the state. Leddy resigned two months later for unstated reasons, but he is contractually bound not to initiate contact with any County employee except his replacement for business purposes only.
When contacted for a statement at his new job with Sonoma County, Leddy’s phone was picked up and then hung up just as fast. A call made directly after went to his answering machine.
According to the victim’s testimony, Leddy was quite the charmer.
Twice a week, he allegedly told Jane she looked like a woman working the Strip in Las Vegas.
Other allegations included:
In June 2013, Leddy was, according to DFEH public records, “Standing behind me while working at desk, tugged on my shirt (right side of collar), looked down my shirt and asked if I was wearing a bra.” He tried to guess her bra size once.
Leddy also allegedly offered to send her a picture of his junk.
“Told me about affair he was having,” Jane stated in the complaint, and that the female he was having an affair with sent Leddy a picture of her husband’s junk.
Leddy allegedly invited Jane to a sexual threesome.
Leddy also allegedly asked Jane to come to his home on several occasions, usually when his wife wasn’t home.
Leddy allegedly asked Jane to come to his house and “bath (sic) with him because his bathtub was really big—big enough for two.”
According to testimony made to the DFEH, Jane once bought coffee and donuts for a meeting, “When he paid [Jane back] with the check he told me that he wanted to write ‘for sex’ on the check.”
Also, Jane went to lunch with two women once, one a lesbian whom Leddy disapproved of, so he and a friend went to the same restaurant and watched the group eat their meal.
The testimony also states that Leddy came looking for Jane once after hours, saying he was afraid she left without saying goodbye. She took the rest of the week off after that confrontation and saw a doctor for fatigue.
Jane maintained that she told him on many occasions to stop.
She claimed she was afraid of losing her job, or her family members’ jobs. Some of Jane’s relatives also work for the County, and allegedly Leddy would threaten to cut her relatives’ jobs out of the County budget.
Jane said she was afraid for her life, too.
“I know people who can do really bad things,” Jane quoted Leddy as saying during her interview for the complaint with the state.
“He would get upset with people at work … threatened to have them killed or he knows bad people who can take care of them. People at the County don’t understand how dangerous he can be,” Jane told the DFEH investigator. She said towards the end of his employment, Leddy would make these threats three to four times a month. Jane said there were a couple of other employees who witnessed the activities.
Jane said she’d heard rumors of Leddy making similar threats to other employees, but just rumors. One female County employee was allegedly harassed by Leddy for having a “deep voice.” Leddy would make fun of her, pretending he didn’t know if she were a man or woman. That employee would eventually quit.
Leddy was acting Human Resources Director at the time, leaving Jane few options as to how to address her complaints. While all this was going on, Jane was battling a life-threatening illness.
Leddy used his personal iPhone to send the messages and there is no way for the county to keep track of, or monitor the information on the phone, according to the Mono County IT Department. He would ask Jane to delete the messages from her phone while she was at work. Mono County Counsel said there is no way of overseeing personal phones without violating an employee’s constitutional rights.
Complaints made by the victim to the Mono County Counsel and the Board of Supervisors (BOS) went through the various channels of bureaucracy and a settlement was eventually reached, sparing the victim from an embarrassing trial and the County and tax payers from an expensive lawsuit. But the allegations are severe and made against a person who was the head of the County, second only to elected officials, and there has been no public announcement regarding the reason for his departure.
Individual County Supervisors told The Sheet that they had not seen or heard of any such complaint made with the state, or that they had “no comment.” Supervisor Stacy Corless initially accused The Sheet of illegally obtaining the DFEH document. Later, upon realizing the document was public, she said if she were aware of any improprieties in the CAO office or any attempts at a cover up she would not have stood for it. Supervisor Larry Johnston said that as a member of the public, he would like to see and hear more of what goes on behind closed doors, but governmental agencies have their hands tied.
The County states that Leddy resigned. The Release of Claims, Leddy’s end of employment contract, also states that, “In the event that Employee (Leddy) is sued at any time for alleged actions or omissions in the course of his employment with the County, the County shall defend and indemnify Employee to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, providing Employee fully cooperates in such defense by the County.”
The BOS says its hands are tied when faced with a harassment allegation, but if it doesn’t believe the victim, it could have appealed the allegation to an administrative law judge. If there was simply a personality conflict between the victim and Leddy, there’s no reason given why he left so suddenly.
Jane said County Counsel told her it sounded like a personality conflict rather than sexual harassment, and that “there are two sides to every story.”
“They didn’t listen to me,” Jane said in the complaint.
When Jane finally complained to County Counsel, she was advised to take sick leave until the matter could be resolved. The victim claims she used up all of her sick, vacation and comp time while she waited. Jane stated in a complaint to the DFEH on April 9 that she believed she was being forced to use her paid leave as retaliation by Leddy, the Mono County Board of Supervisors and County Counsel.
County Counsel Marshall Rudolph wrote in an email, “A common misconception is that administrative leave is only used, if at all, to remove an alleged perpetrator from the workplace; in reality, it can also be used in appropriate circumstances as a means of allowing an alleged victim to temporarily be away from a stressful workplace situation without having to burn their own accrued leave. Decisions by the County of whether and when to use paid administrative leave are made very carefully and based on the totality of the circumstances.”
DFEH investigators stated in its summary of the initial investigation that the harassment could be difficult to substantiate but there was enough to file a Complaint of Discrimination with the county.
The timeline of the events, according to the initial interview conducted by DFEH on March 24, is that the alleged harassment began in June 2013. However, Jane did not make a complaint to the county until October 2014. She talked to County Counsel several times between October and December of 2014. Jane met with two supervisors in January 2015, and, “they told me that they would help me – how to handle this.” In February she was to meet with the other supervisors but was put on administrative leave, from January 12 to February 27. She said while was on leave she was told there are two sides to every story and there was no real proof of what Leddy allegedly did was true.
Leddy was never placed on leave and it could not be confirmed if the county ever conducted an investigation.
In the middle of February, Jane talked to an attorney and eventually left her workplace. She filed a complaint with the DFEH, which was formally filed on April 14, the day Leddy announced his resignation. The DFEH sent the County a Notice of Filing a Complaint on April 20. The County had 30 days to respond to the complaint or to find a way to settle the matter. On April 29, the County asked the DFEH for an extension to respond to June 30 and was granted the request. The County asked for another extension on June 1 to July 30, stating in an email to the DFEH that the parties were still hammering out settlement language. That extension was approved, too. Jane eventually reached a settlement with the County on July 9.
Rudolph said via email to The Sheet, “Responses to the state or federal government regarding discrimination complaints are very time-consuming to prepare. Such agencies typically asks (sic) many questions and requests many documents. Because of my office’s other workload demands, extensions of time to respond are routinely requested and routinely granted. Contrary to your assumption, requesting an extension of time is not some sort of ploy to avoid providing information.”
There are unsubstantiated rumors that the victim was visited at her home by other County employees asking her to keep quiet. The Mono County Sheriff’s Department said it has not received any complaint in regards to Leddy.
It would be a disservice to lay blame completely on Mono County Supervisors, County Counsel or the County itself. Fears of liability and endless payouts to victims have created a system where an employer has an obligation to try to remedy or settle a complaint before the case goes to court. And, in this instance, Leddy has not technically been charged or found guilty of any action.
The process by which a DFEH complaint becomes prosecutable activity is not incredibly complicated, but far from a straight line. First a complaint is filed, then the DFEH conducts an initial investigation with the complainant to determine whether the allegations can be substantiated enough to warrant filing charges. If the complaint makes it this far, the employer is requested to respond and provide the results of any investigation conducted or has done to remedy the situation.
If the case goes to court, damages for harassment and emotional damage can be “endless” according to the DFEH.
Leddy received a nice severance package for his gtrouble, including full pay for the months of April and May, $35,858, plus an additional $35,858. Other stipulations in Leddy’s end of employment contract include that any inquiries into his resignation shall be referred to County Counsel. Counsel simply replies that Leddy resigned.
Letters sent to The Sheet by anonymous County employees state that it is unfair that Leddy has been able to get away with what he allegedly did without recourse. It is also a disservice to future co-workers of Leddy’s.
Leddy went back to work for his former employer Sonoma County, starting just days after his employment with Mono ended.
The Mono County District Attorney said the office has not received any complaints about Leddy. But it is also up to the victim to report the crime.
The majority of County employees interviewed for this story had little to say about Leddy or the work environment he allegedly created, but they were all very happy that Leslie Chapman is at the helm as new CAO. Chapman is Mono County’s first female CAO.
The victim still has the right to sue for civil action even after she has settled, according to the Equal Pay Act.
The fabled “selfie,” an alleged picture Leddy took of his junk and sent to the victim, has not surfaced. Neither party would cop to it, and there is no way of tracking the data sent on cell phones without a court order or having the phone in hand.
Mono County is currently seeking a Human Resources Director.