Another Arroyo Grande sex harassment claim

December 28, 2011

By KAREN VELIE

Another Arroyo Grande police officer says she was sexually harassed and discriminated against, and that department and city officials ignored reports of illegal acts.

Michelle Cota is suing the city, the police department, Chief Steven Annibali and former Commander John Hough for lost wages and damages.

Cota’s ability to advance in the department ended in 2007, under the leadership of Annibali, according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 22. In the suit penned by Santa Barbara based attorney Christine Adams, Cota accuses Annibali and Hough of retaliating against her and two other women who complained that former Sergeant Barry Bridge sexually harassed them.

“Ms. Cota has been subjected to severe discrimination and harassment at the Arroyo Grande police department under the command and direction of Chief Annibali,” Adams said in an email to CalCoastNews. “Chief Annibali’s statements make clear that he is not at all happy that women stand shoulder to shoulder with men on the police force.”

For example, the lawsuit says Annibali ordered a male officer to enter the lady’s locker-room and remove all personal items and pictures the women had posted on their lockers. The women said Annibali enacted a new policy that prohibited the posting of items on the outside of lockers belonging to women while allowing male officers to post photos on their lockers.

In addition, Cota’s suit says Annibali overloaded her with calls, refused to allow female officers overtime, gave men the more desirable shifts and promoted men over more qualified female officers.

“Annibali and Commander Hough have withheld mentoring, training and promotional opportunities to female police officers who have dedicated their careers to protecting Arroyo Grande and its citizens,” Adams said in the email.

Annibali did not return requests for comment.

A case management conference is set for April 25 with San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall.


Loading...

10 Comments

  1. Maxfusion says:

    Ah the sexual harassment industry, lucrative as ever. Unless of course you’re a Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky.

    (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
    • As the world turns says:

      Not sure what you are talking about regarding sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is only lucrative to the attorneys involved in the lawsuits.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. As the world turns says:

    How can anyone be surprised by this story?

    The City of Arroyo Grande has a history of sexual harassment. Read the Tribune stories from years ago and how much settlements, litigation and lawyer fees cost the taxpayers.

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  3. standup says:

    Should this lawsuit cost the city, this guy needs to be forced to leave.

    (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
  4. JackR says:

    Is there any city in the County that has leadership capable of running departments without putting public money at risk because of lawsuits for wrong doings? I’d assume that making sure this type of activity isn’t happening in a department is a priority. If there is a city that has good leadership, I’d like to give them a big Atta-boy!

    (10) 16 Total Votes - 13 up - 3 down
  5. Bob says:

    Arroyo Grande’s untrustworthy and inept Mayor Tony Ferrara will probably drop another remark along the lines of “You people are only here because a certain blogger has you all hyped up about nothing.”

    The problem with Tony’s remarks, is some times they are contradicted by the Grand Jury.

    Keep up the good work Karen, your work has exposed and helped the many local Ships of Fools change course in the view of the public eye.

    (22) 26 Total Votes - 24 up - 2 down
  6. changes says:

    Could this Village idiot be City Manager, Steve Adams? Or perhaps it’s the city mayor, Tony Ferrara? Wonder what type of “spin” or “discredit” they will attempt to spread in the media in regards to both female officers as this second case is filed against the Arroyo Grande Police Chief, Steve Annibali?

    I also find it interesting in an article in New Times that Ferrara is denying any wrong doing or saying an inappropriate statement at the mandatory meeting. It appears that Ferrara, like Annibali, both subscribed to the “Denying everything and make counter accusations” club.

    How many more lawsuits are on the horizon against the City of Arroyo Grande and Police Chief Steve Annibali?

    (12) 20 Total Votes - 16 up - 4 down
  7. slowtime says:

    Ah…yet even more public money going down the drain…! Public leaders using their positions for personal agendas. Clean the dirty house!

    (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
  8. ret5395 says:

    Hmmmmmmm…………where’s there’s smoke theres FIRE!

    (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down
  9. doggin says:

    Racism,hate crimes, bigotry, discrimination of public employees, Corruption, misuse of public funds, Illegal real estate dealings, looks like a certain somebody is still doing a fine job as Village idiot.

    (16) 20 Total Votes - 18 up - 2 down

Comments are closed.