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.


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Crusader

You’re next, App…


MaryMalone

The meeting this Saturday should be interesting.


Crusader

Someone pass the popcorn. This is going to get interesting. I wonder if Debra Estrin’s report will be subpoenaed during discovery?


MaryMalone

Oh, my. Be still, my beating heart.


Cindy

Now that I’m over the shock of the full contents in this law suit, there is something else that I think needs to be addressed and is equally as serious as the sexual assaults and retaliation in this story. Apart from the fact that I suspect all this current info came out in the squashed investigation, what about the Officers who say that they are being threatened with physical harm by other Officers who are Solomon supporters? That is very alarming and highly criminal. These (good) Officers, especially the one who claims that he is leaving town for fear of these threats need to contact an outside agency for help, wear a wire, get these threats on tape, how deep does the criminality in that department go? I hope the new Chief will hold these criminal Officers feet to the fire and demand lie detector tests and new vetting requirements. We can’t allow these bad cops to get the upper hand on the good guy’s. The honest Officers need our help and support, demand an investigation, people of Paso Robles, stand up.


Mr. Holly

“How deep does the criminality in that department go?” I think it goes straight to the city managers office. The city manger hires ALL city employees and should be held accountable for all of these actions that have taken place and those that will be happening in the future. The buck stops at the top. Now is the time for the City Council to do what is right-replace the City Manager before it gets any worse if in fact that is possible. This can’t be fixed internally, App must go and someone needs to come aboard to clean house. If the City Council doesn’t take a positive position in fixing this you would have to wonder how deep their involvement might be.


SLOBIRD

Once again, where is Mr. App’s and the City Council? These allegations need to be investigated because they create workplace harassment, again, more lawsuits. Step up tp the place City Council, and try to have this invesitgated immediately to avoid further legal actions. Where is Iris, again, in Sacramento until Mr. App’s brings her to down. I would like to know how much Ms. Yang is costing us. Maybe we need a City Attonery on board to stop this type of behavior and takes responsibility for the legal issues.


BeenThereDoneThat

If the court finds in favor of Mr. Lux and we (the residents of Paso) are on the hook for more money in this FIASCO, I say get/save some of my money by firing App!!!!


Also I would like to remind all my fellow Paso Roblens to remember this when you step in the voting booth in Nov. and ask, is your current council man or woman doing you any favors? Of course not sexually. Sorry couldn’t resist.


PaulJones

Somehow, it doesn’t seem right to be looking at a photo of the city manager and thinking, is FBG a mouth breather or is the Meter Maid on her knees for that photo?


MaryMalone

I agree–the way his mouth is, it makes him look like the odd second cousin that the family hides from strangers.


Pelican1

It certainly gives new meaning to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


pasoparent5

Where’s Dennis Cassidy? I want to hear from him personally as to WHY in the world he hand-picked Lovely Lisa in the first place. At the time, it was common knowledge among locals that Dennis was grooming her to be his replacement. She was his Girl Friday and no other applicants were even considered for the job.


Chittygate would’ve never happened if former Police Chief Cassidy, CIty Mgr App and the previous councilmen would’ve fully vetted Lisa to begin with. Lisa would’ve NEVER made it to the position of police chief in any other city.


Now we have multiple sexual harassment suits filed against Lovely Lisa the Metermaid and I’m starting to wonder who else is involved. Where are you, Dennis Cassidy? Why have you remained so silent?


Anon E. Muss

The series of stories about Solomon details a very serious matter. The joke leads, such as the “cop a feel” one here or the “badge bunny” lead in the first story in the series, are really unprofessional and harm the site’s credibility as an impartial public watchdog. It makes me wonder if Bill Loving really reads these stories before they get posted, and if he does, I sure am glad I never had one of his classes, and thus won’t have to unlearn this sort of bad habit.


pasoparent5

I agree w/you in that sexual harassment is not a funny matter. Would the opening sentences be the same if it were a male police chief accused of groping a female subordinate? CCN’s about the only local media outlet investigating the ongoing corruption in Paso but their credibility gets tainted by sensationalistic headlines/opening sentences.


MarkJames

Show me the rule that say’s a little tongue and cheek don’t mix with good journalism. Hey if we can’t laugh a little, many of us would cry.


danika

You obviously feel the need to redirect the outrage from the subject matter for a reason…


MaryMalone

It’s called “gallows humor.” The people of Paso Robles have been living in this nightmare for years now. Give them a break, will you?


Cindy

OMG, Now we know why her boss recommended her for the job of Chief and why App thinks she is so great. I knew she had to be great at something and we all know it isn’t at running a PD. If she goes to the homes of her subordinates to give them b*** jobs, I can just imagine what sort of job she would do for someone who could enhance her “other job”. I know I sound terrible assuming these things about her bosses but come on… how outrageous is this behavior and what about App’s behavior? What else is someone supposed to think, what else?


What is that saying? If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck……….


ApathyWillKillYou

and rhymes with DUCK!


Cindy

Waaa hahahah , LOL LOL LOl………Good one………..


MaryMalone

I wonder if she charged the city for mileage?


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