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Paso Robles police chief accused of sexual misconduct

For those who subscribe to the misguided notion that sexual harassment in the workplace is only committed by men, here is a story from Paso Robles, California that suggests otherwise.

More and more male police officers, both current and former, are coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment against the city's female police chief. The accusations are so severe that they could even garner criminal sexual conduct charges.

Their claims depict numerous incidents of inappropriate touching. Many of the officers who are no longer with the force claim that they were let go in a retaliatory effort.

A number of officers recalled an incident on the Sunday night of the Super Bowl where the female police chief instructed everyone to attend what she labeled a mandatory meeting at the Carmel Valley Lodge. She also instructed her inferiors to sit in a hot tub together where she showed her bare breasts and inappropriately touched a male officer's genitals. When that man promptly left the hot tub, she touched another male officer in a similar fashion.

Despite the number of commanders, lieutenants and sergeants to witness this display, none of them reported it as a crime and no one alerted city officials to the harassment.

An additional officer told an investigator that the woman also touched his penis while they were riding in the same squad car together on the job.

Under a California penal code, any intimate touching against a person's will for sexual gratification, arousal or abuse is considered misdemeanor sexual battery. However, when the perpetrator is a public official, punishment for the crime is more severe. The offense could carry either jail or prison time in addition to registering as a sex offender.

Source: Cal Coast News, "Police chief accused of sexually assaulting her officers," Karen Velie and Daniel Blackburn, Jan. 26, 2012

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