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Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Alameda County Probation Chief

OAKLAND (BCN) - An Alameda County deputy probation officer filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that Chief Probation Officer David Muhammad sexually harassed her.

The county Board of Supervisors placed Muhammad, 38, on paid administrative leave on Feb. 14 after the employee filed a $1.5 million claim against him.

The employee's attorney, Kelly Armstrong, said Tuesday that the lawsuit, which names Muhammad and Alameda County as defendants, is seeking unspecified general, special and punitive damages.

The Board of Supervisors hired Muhammad a year ago after he held top probation positions in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Armstrong said it appears that the board was "negligent" in hiring Muhammad because an employee who worked for him in Washington, D.C., alleges that he also sexually harassed her.

Armstrong said two other potential complaints by female employees who worked for Muhammad in Washington are also being investigated.

In the lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court, the 30-year-old deputy probation officer alleges that Muhammad harassed her at a probation office in Hayward on May 15 when he noticed a discoloration on her neck, laughed and joked about it and called it a "hickey."

The deputy alleges that four days later, on the morning of May 19, Muhammad asked her to pick him up at Oakland International Airport and drive him to a speaking engagement in Oakland but then instructed her to take him to the San Leandro Marina instead.

Once at the marina, the deputy alleges, Muhammad grabbed her head and started kissing her, telling her, "We would make some pretty babies."

The suit states that the deputy tried to pull back from Muhammad but he became aggressive and sexually assaulted her, kissing her and forcibly touching her breasts and vagina.

The deputy said that a day later, on May 20, Muhammad sent her multiple text messages. Concerned about what would happen to her job if she rebuffed him, she agreed to meet him and his brother at a restaurant in Hayward, according to the suit.

At the end of the night, the suit alleges, he again began to grope her.

The deputy claims she pulled away and reiterated to Muhammad that she only wanted to be friends, and that Muhammad eventually became upset and left.

The suit alleges that the deputy probation officer has suffered economic harm and has experienced mental distress and anguish.

Armstrong said she believes it is unfair that Muhammad in on paid administrative leave while the deputy officer is on unpaid leave. She said the officer is on medical leave due to the injuries she suffered when Muhammad allegedly sexually assaulted her.

The California Attorney General's Office is conducting an investigation to see whether criminal charges should be filed against Muhammad.

The Board of Supervisors on Friday appointed LaDonna Harris, a former division commander in the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, to serve as acting chief probation officer.

Alameda County officials weren't immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.

Muhammad didn't return phone calls and email messages last month seeking comment on the employee's claim.



(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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