Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus says a former male employee who was terminated has accused him in a lawsuit of making sexual advances toward the employee in the past.
Magnus, who is openly gay and married, denied the allegations Sunday in a 414-word statement released before the lawsuit has been made public. On Monday, the Contra Costa Times located the court documents that revealed the firedcop’s side of the story.
What follows is the chief’s full Facebook statement regarding the allegations:
STATEMENT FROM CHIEF CHRIS MAGNUS
April 5, 2015
One of the things I’ve unfortunately had to become used to as a police chief is getting sued—either as a party to a lawsuit directed against the City for something involving the police department—or for something related to a specific employment matter, often disciplinary related, involving an employee. Dealing with lawsuits is one of the least enjoyable parts of the job, but especially here in California, such legal actions are a very common development in cases where someone is suspended, demoted, or fired from a public safety agency.
When I learned on Saturday that the City and I were being sued by an employee who was terminated for multiple serious acts of misconduct, including domestic violence and weapons related violations, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me was his allegation that I’d made sexual advances towards him many years ago, a new low when it comes to bogus claims. It appears that having assessed some other claim of bias wasn’t his best option, this officer and his attorney (the same attorney suing the City on several other cases) apparently decided to exploit the fact that as a police chief who happens to be gay, I would be “vulnerable” to this particular type of accusation.
Attorneys frequently tell you to “say nothing” when you’re dealing with allegations of this type—and I understand why that is from a legal standpoint—but in this instance I feel I have to respond, given my ongoing commitment to transparency and forthrightness. I support the City hiring an independent, outside investigator to fully investigate what’s been alleged—and of course, I will cooperate fully. In addition, I am confident the City will prepare a rigorous defense of the civil claims that have been made.
If the goal of the plaintiff and his attorney is to embarrass, intimidate, or otherwise bully me for doing my job when it comes to addressing misconduct within my department, I can assure you it’s not going to happen. We have made, and continue to make, tremendous strides towards having a police department in Richmond that is highly professional, accountable, and responsive to the community. I plan to continue to hold RPD employees, as I hold myself, responsible to the high standards we have for conduct both on and off duty. My personnel and I are focused on making Richmond as safe and livable a community as possible. We are not going to be distracted or deterred from that goal by frivolous lawsuits.
By Kathy Chouteau
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