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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APasoResident

The Trib is reporting that Solomon isn’t named as one of the defendants? Can anyone explain why she isn’t? I would think she should be if 50 others are- she’s the one groping.


whatdouno

Solomon is no longer employed by the City of Paso Robles, this suit is against the city. She would have to be sued personally in a civil case.


MaryMalone

OMG, she left them holding the bag—and they gave her $330,000 (so far) in hush-money protection to get rid of her.


danika

Fred Strong came to the CPRN2012 meet and greet and the subject of Lisa Solomon came up. He spoke about his inability to speak to the issue and adamantly stated he wished he could. He told us all (I am paraphrasing here) that the he was glad wheb she was promoted because she had damaged several squad cars while in the course of duty. He laughed boisterously in saying this.

But I really listened to what he didn’t say. His body language changed, his face softened, and his voice tone changed to that of a parent. He wanted to spill everything he knew, but he did not. But those of us who witnessed his words came away with the quiet understanding that the people of Paso were wrongfully extorted of that $230,000 payoff. Thank you, Fred.


Lisa Solomon should not have been paid because of the damage to her reputation. The filing of this lawsuit clearly demonstrates that any damage to her reputation was self-inflicted. The entire City Council, the City Manager, the City Attorney ALL signed off on this decision and boldly decided that YOU THE PEOPLE OF PASO DID IREPARABLE HARM TO LISA SOLOMON…and you MUST be forced to pay for it. And then they quickly wrote the check and off she went. And YOU, the voters of Paso Robles must look at this action as failure, disgrace and dishonor of your trust. Paso Robles City serves itself. There must be change in who represents the City. There must be a gathering of outrage in the city and a joining to make sure NONE of this cr*p can EVER happen again. PLEASE get involved. Change can ONLY happen if YOU help make it happen…


studioclubnews

Personally, I think he was a mole at the meeting himself, took away from what the purpose of the group can really grow to become. He and the city council know this is a way to subvert the group, for them to stick their deceptive ways into the group, and sidetrack the real movements and then go back to the good-ole-boys and tell them what went on and get a feather in his hat. Any of their presence at these meetings will ruin the group, in my opinion.


danika

Fred Strong was not invited but came because the meeting was open to all public to attend. Our future meetings will be held privately and open to members only.


Please go to our website, CPRN2012.org and register to join us in our cause to bring change to Paso Robles. We have a lot of information to share and need the communities help.


pasojim

Unfortunately we will probably never know exactly what services see performed for the pin heads that have propped her up and then ultimately paid her off.


studioclubnews

We can not leave this to be investigated by the City Council, or somehow J. App sidetrack the investigation. Someone in the comments mentioned Dennis Cassidy, and his relationship, along with Mecham bringing her into our lives…the men that ran the city before the present good-ole-boys are as much to blame. PasoCitizen just said in comment: “Shame on Picanco, Strong, Hamon, Gilman, and Steinbeck for letting this happen. Shame on the former Police Chief, fomer mayor Mecham and our city attorney for being part of this. And shame on us for allowing them to do this to us and to our city.” Cassidy, the Ex Chief of Police his Lisa the meeter maid ex chief and Mecham are the ones that ran off the car show… The way these good-ole-boys and girls run this town has spread to the Chamber, tourist bureau, main street association and school district.


I think the poor excuses for news papers in this area are also to blame!!!!!! Dan and Karen and the Cal Coast News can be credited for what can possibly be the movement to save a town and a community. This is criminal what has been happening!!!!!!!!! Someone must bring in big guns that can deal with this kind of gangster behavior. Because of these good-ole-boys the town is flat ass broke, people have been hurt, our kids are being hurt and many of our young have no chance to find a life here…damn this make me so angry!!!!!


As the world turns

Why are all these government officials going to nice resorts at our expenses? Anyone look at other government agencies (e.g., SLOCOG, County, City, RWQCB) receipts recently?


The Gimlet Eye

This is why every town needs an independent “watchdog” group to scrutinize what is going on in city government. It would be nice if city councils would do this (that is what they are supposed to be doing), but they don’t, all too often. As you can see from this web log, it’s not enough for INDIVIDUALS; these individuals much SHARE information with each other. If they get organized, that’s even better.


PR folks, your city council is not looking out for you! Throw them out in the next election!


Paso_citizen

And so it goes. Thanks to our outstanding(?) City Council and head honcho Jimmy App, here is another fine example of how they continue to promote this city. Has anyone inquired with the Travel Paso Robles Alliance as to what magazines or venue they have advertised this area in that includes the possible benefits of visiting this city – enjoy our wine and get a little feel-up from our chief. Playboy or maybe Hustler magazines. This ought to have been a selling point, don’t you think!


It is so obvious that this story should never have happened – it just would have taken the CC and App to show they really care about this city – not about themselves. They, and only they, had the power and the responsibilty to stop this several years ago. What a crying shame that now this story will be known throughout the state and possibly the nation and leave an un-erasable black mark on Paso Robles.


I do not know how widely read CalCoastNews is by the citizens of this city, but if there is any question in anyones mind about the absolute need to make significant and major changes in this city’s government – it simply is beyond me. How anyone that considers themselves open-minded can look at themselves or look at their children and say that this is an example of good city government.

Every citizen ought to be a little more ashamed of being a Paso Roblan – to have this go on and know that the people we elected to run this city allowed it to go on. Shame on Picanco, Strong, Hamon, Gilman, and Steinbeck for letting this happen. Shame on the former Police Chief, fomer mayor Mecham and our city attorney for being part of this. And shame on us for allowing them to do this to us and to our city.


We must all accept some responsibility for this, and we all must accept the responsibility to change it. Hopefully the complete and total story will finally come out and each and every individual that played a part in this will be held accountable, legally and financially. This will most likely bring even further shame upon this city, but it has to happen. Maybe, just maybe, some day in the future; we citizens, and especially those with children, will be able to make sense of this and be able to explain to our children what happened and why it happened. And bring back some of that sense of being really proud of being called a Paso Roblan.


studioclubnews

Paso_citizen so well said, and so important to bring up the past group of gangsters that were running this town and created the water problems, ran off the car show, and set up the huge huge pensions that are draining the towns budget to this day…and on and on…This town has the potential to become a very rich town…and soon as the cronies are out of the way, it can happen relative fast…


The Gimlet Eye

When a city council is in session, no one is safe.


viamagnolia1

I am very happy for the police officer to do the right thing and put a stop to the way Paso Robles is running Retailiation runs rampant in City Hall. Go along just to get along. I am sorry the officer had to file suit and be subjected to all of this but it was necessary to stand up for his civil rights. Congrats to the officer. I support you 100%. No citizen should ever “fear” their goverment like the people of Paso Robles fear theirs. This is not right. This officer had a bright career with the Police Department. and thanks to the actions of a former police chief, she has damaged his career and the City of Paso Robles did nothing. In fact they praise her and pay her 250K to thank her for the crummy job she did.


fhill123

It seems like deja vu all over again. The only problem is the public got f…ed but was never kissed.


PaulJones

I don’t think her attempts at bringing criminal charges and trumped up reasons for firing these men were about retaliation over being rebuffed. I think her reactions were fear based. She was buying herself insurance after being rebuffed (unless it was a very friendly rebuff ) because she knew it was possible that someone might file a complaint. She was attacking first to damage the credibility of those who might call her to answer for her actions, it’s called, setting the stage for plausible denial. The retaliation was all about manipulation and covering her ass, “get them before they get her” kind of thinking.


She has so violated her position of power that she deserves to go to prison as a chronic sex offender just like a man would go to prison. She is a devious woman and a dangerous one. That unregistered gun was no accident. This woman is all about planning ahead and I believe that gun was intended to be a throw down for the day that she really f**ked up.


pasoparent5

Paul, I fully agree w/you that Lisa violated her position of power and that she’s devious but I think you give her too much credit. She’s not the brightest bulb in the room and there’s no way she could’ve planned the gun incident so far in advance. Lovely Lisa the Meter Maid was Paso’s token “first female top cop” and she failed miserably.


Cindy

I think he is saying that she knew it was illegal to own her unregistered gun but intentionally never registered it because she thought an unregistered gun might come in handy some day. That day never came but she was ready in case it ever did. It doesn’t take smarts to know that an unregistered hun can come in handy if you shoot someone that you shouldn’t have.


MaryMalone

Unfortunately for Solomon, as we all now know, she is such a pathetic marksman that she had to file a sexual harassment complaint at the police academy to get herself graduated.