Onetime Paso Robles cop sues, cites former chief as sexual groper

May 29, 2012

Lisa Solomon-Chitty

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

Bringing new meaning to the phrase “cop a feel,” a former Paso Robles police officer filed a lawsuit against the city Tuesday, alleging former Police Chief Lisa Solomon-Chitty made repeated sexual advances toward him, and terminated him when she was rebuffed.

In the action lodged by Brennan Lux, Solomon-Chitty and Paso Robles city staff and officials are additionally accused of creating a hostile work environment and ignoring allegations of retaliation.

Following a two-year investigation, CalCoastNews reported January 12 on Solomon-Chitty’s alleged sexual conduct with, and in the presence of, department subordinates, including Lux and numerous others. Previously, CalCoastNews published reports of Solomon-Chitty’s public behavior in local saloons, where she sometimes danced on bars, and described herself as “an entertainer.”

Since January, additional officers and police department employees have been interviewed by CalCoastNews regarding Solomon-Chitty’s reported behavior. These individuals have alleged their former boss threatened them with trumped-up criminal charges if they rebuffed her advances or questioned her management practices. She has become the subject of intense public scrutiny. But she has yet to publicly comment on, or deny, the mounting allegations.

And this week, several sources interviewed regarding these allegations have told CalCoastNews they are being physically threatened by police officers close to Solomon-Chitty — and at least one of those threatened plans to leave town.

Following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and poor management practices, Solomon-Chitty and Paso Robles officials reached a confidential agreement March 20 calling for payment of severance and back pay of more than $250,000. The agreement cited adverse “online reports” as having caused “irreparable harm” to her reputation and adversely affecting her ability to perform her job duties.

City Manager Jim App and members of the city council praised Solomon-Chitty following council’s approval of her parting package. App called her “a great asset” to the city and “a dedicated public servant,” adding that he was personally distressed by Solomon-Chitty’s departure.

In his lawsuit, Lux notes that he was hired as an officer in 2000 by then-Lt. Solomon-Chitty. Then, at a 2006 after-party for a charity event, Solomon-Chitty reportedly made her first move on Lux by caressing his leg and asking him for a ride home.

Lux refused, suggesting they should remain just friends, according to the lawsuit.

A short time later, after being named chief in early 2007, Solomon-Chitty called Lux and asked if she could stop by his home to talk. While there, she allegedly initiated oral sex on her subordinate after sharing a few beers.

Following the encounter, Lux claims he began limiting his contact with the chief.

According to the lawsuit, Solomon-Chitty became angry, and accused Lux of being distant. Lux responded by telling his boss that “he believed that a professional relationship between the two of them was best for both of them,” the lawsuit says.

In 2008, Solomon-Chitty required all members of her command staff to attend a team-building workshop at the Carmel Valley Lodge during Super Bowl weekend.

After the first day of workshop events, Solomon-Chitty ordered the seven attending officers to join her in the hot tub. Solomon-Chitty, who was becoming increasingly intoxicated, according to the lawsuit, stood and flashed her breasts.

Carmel Valley Lodge pool and hot tub

She then allegedly sat down next to Lux, slid her hand into his shorts and grabbed his penis. Lux objected, quickly got out of the hot tub, and jumped into the unheated pool.

However, because of the temperature of the pool on that cold and rainy day, Lux needed to warm up and stepped back in the hot tub.

According to the lawsuit, Solomon-Chitty then repeated her groping, while Lux continued to object to the allegedly unwanted sexual contact. Lux then left the hot tub.

The following day, Solomon-Chitty reportedly warned Lux that information about the sexual assault was not to be repeated.

Up until that time, Lux had received exemplary performance reviews. But after he rebuffed her advances in the hot tub, Solomon-Chitty began retaliating against him by directing department supervisors to scrutinize Lux’s activities, according to the lawsuit.

In Nov. 2011, Solomon-Chitty terminated Lux for allegedly committing battery, use of excessive force and unlawful detention during the arrest of a combative suspect.

Officer Dave Hernandez, the watch commander at the time, said he saw the video of the arrest and contends that Solomon-Chitty trumped up the charges in a failed attempt to have the officer charged with a crime. And while Solomon-Chitty sent reports of the alleged assault to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office, no charges were ever filed.

Additional allegations include those made by Officer T.J. McCall, who told a city investigator that Solomon-Chitty grabbed his penis while he sat in her car.

Hernandez also says Solomon-Chitty touched him inappropriately. In 2007, Hernandez and another officer in full uniform entered a saloon then called the Crooked Kilt, to do a bar check.

Solomon, who had been out on the dance floor, approached Hernandez in a room full of people and allegedly pushed the officer’s face into her breasts.

After Hernandez complained to the Paso Robles City Council about Solomon-Chitty’s management practices, she allegedly attempted to have him charged with negligent operation of a vehicle, and of being discourteous to a member of the public. Hernandez resigned Jan. 11 and is contemplating filing a civil lawsuit suit against the city.

City Manager James App

In his lawsuit, Lux seeks a judgment against the city of Paso Robles and up to 50 currently unnamed defendants for unspecified monetary general damages, economic damages, prejudgment interest and attorney’s fees.

As a result of the unlawful acts of the defendants, the lawsuit alleges that Lux “suffered and will suffer physical, mental, and emotional injuries, pain, distress, suffering, anguish, fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shame, mortification, injured feelings, shock, humiliation, indignity, damage to reputation, aggravation, inconvenience, and other non-economic damages in a sum to be ascertained according to proof.”

A current officer, Jon Tatro, has also filed a lawsuit against Solomon-Chitty and city officials, claiming the former chief initiated an illegal ticket quota scheme and punished officers who didn’t make their quotas.

And more recently, CalCoastNews reported that Solomon-Chitty has for years been tweaking crime statistic data supplied to state and federal justice departments, which were used to facilitate grant applications.


108 Comments

  1. Citizen says:

    I am making this comment because I know that Jim App and his staff read CCN and hope that he can help resolve this problem.

    If you’re wondering what Lisa Solomon has done with her new found wealth (Paso taxpayer money), you might drive by and look at the large yellow and white boat in her driveway. Of course, this might not be hers and she might be storing it for a friend, but either way she is violating the CC&Rs of our neighborhood by storing this boat in the driveway.

    If she hadn’t been violating the CC&Rs by leaving her car parked on the street overnight, she wouldn’t have had her loaded gun stolen, but some people think they are above the rules and regs for the neighborhood (CC&Rs).

    We have another Paso cop who is looking after his parents empty house who is also violating the CC&Rs by parking a motorhome in the driveway. The neighbors and development have been after this family to move their motorhome for over a year.

    So how does this arrogance (that they don’t have to follow the rules) affect their relationship with the community? Remember when gang activities were unabated in the North part of the city and Lisa Solomon lamented that “no one will talk to us”. Well, here’s a better one.

    One of our neighbors was present at a local establishment when a drug deal was going down. When the police pulled up, the dealer threw the dope under a truck in the parking lot. Seeing that the officer was our neighborhood CC&R violator, the neighbor said nothing and the police couldn’t find the dope or make an arrest.

    The worst thing I’ve heard, however, is that some police officers are making threats against the officers who filed suit against the city. Mr. App, you must intervene at least on this more serious accusation. The police should not be threatening anyone, and you are the only one who can stop it.

    We can’t have police arrogance even if it is just a few officers; they are not above the law or above legal contractual obligations. I realize that Lisa Solomon no longer works for the city, but please have someone speak to the officer with the motorhome. Irritating the community is not a good way to foster cooperation and support for the police department, and threatening individuals (if that is happening) is way out of line.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 52 Thumb down 3

    • MaryMalone says:

      One thing the threats by current Paso officers against those who have filed lawsuit shows us quite clearly: the interim police chief isn’t much better at the job than was Lisa Solomon.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 3

    • CONCERNEDINPR says:

      Jim App – The Scorecard

      Lisa Solomon Debacle: 0

      Police and Fire Staffing: 0

      Nacimiento Water: 0

      Water Rates: 0

      Wastewater Treatment Plant : 0

      Citywide Road Maintenance: 0

      Citywide Landscape Maintenance: 0

      Public Schools – Three Day per Week Schedule: 0

      Fiscal Management: 0

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 1

      • prbizownr says:

        Have to give credit where credit is due. Although I’m sure App would love to have his fingers in the school district’s budget, in California school districts are independent of the city. The mess in Paso schools is due to the inability of district Superintendent McNamara and her business department to manage a $1.59 million internal loan and the inability of her and the school board to negotiate with school employees.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

    • Cindy says:

      Have you tried contacting the code enforcement manager at city hall? I should think a verbal complaint would be sufficient to dispatch a code enforcer to the site of the violation, particularly when it’s been ongoing for an entire year. Frankly, I shouldn’t think your name would even be required since a blatant code violation is easy enough to confirm. If the neighbors have already asked (the offending officer) that the motor home be removed and he hasn’t complied, then it’s high time to complain to the city officials.

      As for Solomon, I would take a photo and send it to CCN. They can call and report the boat to the PR city hall and then report to all of us what the city plans to do about Solomon’s inappropriate behavior. It would be understandable that when even the police are afraid of the police, an ordinary citizen would have concern about reporting the Meter Maid. That’s all App needs is to ignore more Solomon nonsense and her self serving illegal activities. He will have to do something about it if he is contacted especially if its by CCN !

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

      • Citizen says:

        The boat in Solomon’s driveway is gone. The motorhome remains–so far.

        The CC&Rs are neighborhood covenants that anyone who moves into the neighborhood agrees to honor. Our neighborhood does not allow boats, motorhomes, trailors, etc. in driveways. Many people moved here for the covenants and a lot of people store their motorhomes at commercial lots. By reducing the clutter in the neighborhood, you keep property values high. The neighborhood Association and in this case, the developer will have to take this cop’s family to court to make them comply or sell.

        The Code Enforcement officer deals with the city’s codes or laws, not CC&Rs.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

      • south says:

        CC&Rs are civil regs. The HOA needs to take action not the city.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Dogpound says:

      Why don’t you speculate a little more about the boat? How about “you heard” they paid cash for it? Get your facts straight first. Oh wait, this is CCN where that is not required. How stupid is your neighbor! Sees a drug deal go down, sees the drugs get thrown under a car and then does not tell the Police?! And just because of a stupid violation of a CCR? A neighborhood rule? That is disgusting to let a felony occurr just because some neighborhood courtesey rule was supposedly violated. And what threats are being made? Again it is “what I heard is…” I have not heard that and in fact I have heard that no one really cares what is happeneding to the old Chief or the lawsuit. There are no threats flying around from Officers. Stop comparing CCR’s with major crimes. There is no comparison. But I am sure you “heard this was happening”.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 32

      • MaryMalone says:

        Do you hold all news publications responsible for what individual users of message boards post? If so, you better hot-foot it over to the Tribune right away.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

    • CONCERNEDINPR says:

      So, let me get this straight.

      I read with interest yesterday the article in The Tribune regarding Jim App’s “five-year” strategy to fund a priority list of “certain city services” with what appears to be a windfall of income derived from sales and hotel bed taxes.

      In summary:

      $140K for firefighters and paramedics. I have no problem with this allocation.

      $500K for devoting a police officer to the Narcotics and Gang Task Force. $500K???

      $280K for hiring a human resources risk management specialist. $280K???

      $300K for part-time library staffing. $300K???

      $760K for fixing potholes. $760K for potholes???

      $750K for updating the city’s software system. $750K for software???

      What about repaving and striping our dilapidated city streets? How about establishing a budget for maintenance on existing infrastructure?

      This city is a train wreck and App wants to spend in excess of a million dollars on risk management specialists, part-time library staff and financial software?

      The bottom line is that App needs to go.

      The citizens of this city need to replace Jim App with a competent and professional administrator who can effectively manage the city’s resources.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

      • Dogpound says:

        If you read the article the list is a five year plan of expenditures to 2016, not a one time cost. Since this is a five year plan you would divide all of those numbers by five to get a yearly cost. When you buy that new car and see how much it costs after 5 years it is a little scary. The per month payments are easily affordable and now that 5 year figure does not seem so unrealistic. Same thing here pretty much.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  2. willieslo says:

    $250,000 severance and back pay
    Plus a hugh “lifetime pension and benefit ”
    Lisa Does NOT need to win the California Lottery.
    All this to CYA the city against her victims,
    Who are the better officers and all the rest of us taxpayers!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1

    • CONCERNEDINPR says:

      Given Lisa Solomon’s new found wealth, Mr. Lux should file a civil suit against her for damages. Upon receipt of the proceeds, perhaps, he could give the money back to the city. Maybe, then, we could pave and stripe a couple of streets before they turn back into dirt.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 4

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