SANTA ANA (CNS) - Three more Orange County prosecutors have filed lawsuits against the county alleging sexual harassment from a retired senior prosecutor and retaliation for reporting it by the District Attorney's Office, according to records obtained today.
The first of several lawsuits was filed in November and three more were filed Tuesday. Attorney Matt Murphy, a retired high-profile prosecutor in the homicide unit of the Orange County District Attorney's Office, represents the four women who have sued so far. Attorney Aaron Brock represents three more but has not yet filed suit.
The lawsuits revolve around alleged conduct from retired senior prosecutor Gary LoGalbo, who was formerly a roommate of District Attorney Todd Spitzer and best man at Spitzer's wedding.
In one of the lawsuits filed Tuesday, a female prosecutor alleged that Spitzer handed LoGalbo, ``Spitzer's close friend for over 25 years preferential treatment and promoted him into a management position despite knowing Mr. LoGalbo had a history sexually harassing female employees.''
The woman, who is not named, said she and others in the office ``were exposed daily to Mr. LoGalbo's sexual harassing comments.''
LoGalbo declined comment.
The lawsuit references a report from a county-hired outside law firm that investigated the claims of harassment and ``concluded that Mr. LoGalbo committed sexual harassment towards plaintiff, and that his conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment.''
The lawsuit further alleges that after the report was publicly released, Spitzer ``embarked on a campaign of retaliation against plaintiff and other victims of Mr. LoGalbo for blowing the whistle on his `best' friend.''
That led to a requested second independent investigation by the same law firm, which found Aug. 2 that county officials did nothing wrong releasing the first report to media, but found fault in the way Spitzer released the report to all of his office's employees. The report was released recently to the plaintiffs and to City News Service following a public records act request.
``Five months later, the investigation findings were finally made available to plaintiff, and they are stunning,'' the lawsuit alleges. ``The investigator concluded that Mr. Spitzer `flagrantly' violated defendant county of Orange's (Equal Employment Opportunity) and abusive conduct policies and acted with `malice' towards plaintiff and other victims of Mr. LoGalbo.
``The investigator also concluded that Mr. Spitzer knowingly `abused' and `misused' his power as District Attorney, which created a hostile and offensive work environment for Mr. LoGalbo's victims, including plaintiff,'' the lawsuit alleged.
According to the lawsuit, the release of the report from Spitzer subjected the plaintiff and other accusers of LoGalbo to ``gawking'' and ``humiliation'' and has the ``effect of gratuitous sabotage,'' and ``undermining of those (victims') work performance.''
The lawsuit alleged that the county's ``own investigation found that Mr. Spitzer has `caused unjustified embarrassment and indignity to (his own district attorneys).' Shockingly, the report reveals that Mr. Spitzer, the county's chief law enforcement officer, did not cooperate in the investigation and refused to be interviewed.''
Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, issued the following statement:
``The first investigation came with what we now know was a blatantly false promise of confidentiality, provided both in writing and verbally to everyone interviewed by the county's independent investigator. Many of the employees who candidly participated in the first investigation understandably felt violated when the investigator's report was first released by the county and not the District Attorney.
``The decision not to participate in the second investigation was made because it was clear there would be no confidentiality the second time around. The District Attorney felt this was unfair to the victims. The Orange County District Attorney's Office has and continues to fully support the victims of harassment by Mr. LoGalbo. The behavior he engaged in at the workplace is nothing short of vile.
``... The independent investigation cleared everyone of any wrongdoing with the exception of Mr. LoGalbo. The initial independent investigation flatly rejected any allegation of retaliation by the District Attorney or any of his executive managers. Any allegation to the contrary is simply not true.
``Any allegation of harassment or retaliation in the workplace -- irrespective of the timing, potential motive, or interpersonal relationships -- has and will continue to be thoroughly investigated.''
LoGalbo was promoted to head up the North Justice Center in Fullerton in December 2019 and he ``could often be heard laughing, telling crude stories, or engaging in conversations with subordinates regarding inappropriate subject matters,'' the lawsuit alleged.
LoGalbo ``became known for leering at the legs of the women he worked with,'' the woman alleged in her lawsuit while adding that he ``also seemed to enjoy surprising female subordinates by sneaking up behind them and pressing cold cans of diet Coke onto the bare skin of their backs or necks. As he settled into his new supervisorial role, this behavior became more frequent, overt, and increasingly sexual in nature.''
LoGalbo supervised six female prosecutors at the Fullerton courthouse, who alleged a variety of incidents including LoGalbo tucking in an exposed bra strap, pointing his phone at a bent-over prosecutor saying, ``This one is for the spank bank, I'll use it later,'' the lawsuit alleges.
When another manager attempted to discuss the issue with LoGalbo ,he allegedly responded, ``What are they going to do, fire me? I'm Todd's best friend,'' the lawsuit alleged.
LoGalbo was promoted again in November 2020 to supervise all of the branch court operations. That promotion prompted a complaint of sexual harassment against him from a female prosecutor. The District Attorney's Office's human resources officer began an investigation, which allegedly led to LoGalbo deciding to retire in mid-December of 2020.
The outside law firm's independent investigation was launched at the end of 2020.
The woman suing alleged that when Spitzer was informed of her identity, he told others in an executive meeting that she was lying about sexual harassment.
The lawsuit further alleges that Spitzer directed the prosecutor's supervisor to write her up for being untruthful, but the supervisor said she had not lied and that what his boss was suggesting was against state law.