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

I would like to see CCN and CPRN2012 collaborate on hosting a debate amongst all those running for Paso Robles Mayor/City Council. Find a good moderator to run the debate and hold it at a truly neutral location. Video the entire debate and put in on youtube. I think this would help Paso resident choose who to support and more importantly, who not to support.


danika

An excellent idea, Crusader, and one worthy to look into to. Thanks for the suggestion.


danika

Crusader, would you please email your contact information to me at CPRN2012@gmx.org? I would very much like to speak to you about this suggestion. We hold our members information confidential. Thank you.


justme

Another Token bites the dust just as they must. If she was plumbed differently we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The ticket quota is common practice, wouldn’t have come up and is here to stay I’ll bet the original Paso Sheriff’s were hardened local men who didn’t get their horses broken into and their six shooters stolen.


MaryMalone

Clearly, the interim police chief (you know, the one who–according to your reasoning–is plumbed correctly) isn’t any different than Solomon.


PRPD officers would not be threatening the officers who have filed legal suit if the interim chief was not either, a) turning a blind eye, or, b) encouraging them to do so.


R.Hodin

Congratulations to Karen & Dan for sticking to this story over the last 2 years, and for showing the other local media exactly what “bull-dogging” looks like. I pray that citizens and councilpersons never forget how easily incompetence can be masked by authority, and rationalized by our spineless leaders.


I hope the CNPA (California Newspaper Publishers Assn) creates a new award for determination & doggedness in the face of vocal criticism from other local media, and gives the inaugural award to CCN. They could call it the “Swamp Gas” award, featuring a bas-relief brass portrait of the Tribune’s Bob Cuddy sucking on a hookah.


rogerfreberg

…. Paso needs a clean sweep.


CONCERNEDINPR

I need to restate my position amongst a larger audience.


Jim App needs to be fired and replaced by a competent civil servant who understands the necessity for transparency and dialogue in working with the community.


Make no mistake about it, Jim App is the problem. Remove him from office and we can start anew. Keep him in his position and we will make absolutely zero progress in resolving the many issues that plague the city of Paso Robles.


Jim App is a self-centered autocrat who has effectively run the city into the ground. He needs to go now.


pasoman

I agree totally. Until Jim App goes, we wont solve the problem.


However you forgot to mention the CC needs to start with Iris Yang. There would be NO payout, just a simple: “your services are no longer required.


Quick, easy, and painless. And, that would signal to the Citizens that the Council actually listens to them.


P.S. Council… Stop blaming CCN for what Jim App has created, and you have allowed to continue. CCN is simply doing what the press has been doing in this country better than any other in the world. Making our representive government accounable.


Lisa is soley responsible for her behavior, CCN just reported on it, it was your job to do something about it.


pasoparent5

I agree that App & Yang should go and no, there *shouldn’t* be a payout…but there WILL be.


App’s contract (like Lisa’s) already provides for one; Sally Reynolds addressed the issue during the public forum time at a recent council mtg. I think App’s going-away bonus would also be in the $250,000 range. I’m confident Iris Yang has a similar lucrative contract though I don’t know the exact amount.


So if App (and possibly Yang) leaves his position for ANY reason, he gets a big fat check from the taxpayers….doesn’t matter if he’s fired, quits, resigns, or chooses to join his friend Lovely Lisa the Meter Maid in “early retirement”. Whatever you wanna call it, App will get more of OUR cash.


ust think of the crosswalks we could paint…or the potholes we could fix…maybe get some decent playground equipment replaced in the downtown tourist trap park. How about sponsor the fireworks again or have Santa cruise around w/the cops during Christmas…. Maybe get the fountain running again instead of relying on business donations. Nope. This council doesn’t care about the locals anymore. They care about promoting Paso as “the new Napa” and paying astronomical salaries and payout plans to arrogant, incompetent and unethical city administrators.


The first step is to vote out Picanco, Strong and Gilman in November. Paso must have impartial, honest, competent leaders who will serve the RESIDENTS and not allow themselves to be strung along by the puppetmaster, Jim App.


Paso_citizen

Couldn’t agree more. The elected and appointed officials of this city are hell-bent to make Paso the major tourist destination in CA. Forget about Napa, move over Disneyland or Sea World – here we come.


The one, and only, yet unknown is “Are the citizens of El Paso de Robles going to continue to accept this??” The answer to this comes from only 2 things:

1. The guts or gumption of one or more citizens running for CC or mayor.

2 The results of the election in November – despite some efforts to the contrary,

we still live in a country that lives by the ballot box. The vote will be the true

answer to the above as-yet unknown.


danika

CPRN2012 would like to start a petition to force the city attorney into an elected postion. We are also urging the delay in hiring the new Police Chief until after the elections.


Cindy

danika, Generally the City Council hires the city attorney because for one thing, they’re required to follow the attorneys advise or subject themselves to the consequence of personal liability if the city is sued over an item where they discounted the CA recommended directives, or any resulting item in the future that is effected by the CC having set aside the CA’s legal advise. This is a very real fact and I have personally known CC who have explained some of the fine lines they walked at times while placing an item on hold (for bad legal advise) and terminating their CA.


If they hire the CA they can fire the CA at any time as that position is a contract position. If the city attorney is elected, everybody is stuck with the guy/gal and if the CA turns out to be a french fry short of a happy meal, the CC has their hands tied. It would take a recall to remove an elected city attorney (which can take months and is very costly). It would seem that the key is to elect a competent City Council and allow them to hire their CA and CM. The CC can’t do it’s job if they don’t have control over their city attorney and their city manager, at least I don’t think so?


danika

Cindy, thanks for the info. It became apparent from our CPRN2012 meet and greet that many people do not realize the City Attorney’s position is to protect the city and not its residents. The City Council has little control over Iris Yang; it is Jim App who controls the council and the attorney.


MaryMalone

The city council will make the decision to fire App and the decision on who will be hired to replace him.


Under no circumstances should App be fired before the voters have had a chance to get a majority of council members elected who actually put what is best for the citizens of PR ahead of what is best for the entrenched crony-club.


We’ve seen how difficult and expensive it is to get rid of a police chief in PR. Can you imagine how bad it would be to get rid of a Jim App clone–which is what the city council would pick.


Cindy

I have responded to Mr App at the bottom of the thread where his post is. I would be happy to come to his office and discuss this with him, face to face. I’m available anytime, please leave me a day and time and I’ll be there.


Thank You


willieslo

Cindy


I saw his response, he is already mind set, its not gona matter what you say, his speel is set mind one way no matter what!

As for his son’s remarks, he clearly possess a martar like arrogance, he’s in the wrong country for that!


MaryMalone

Mr. App, unlike PasoParents, I cannot “thank you for your candor” because you have made it a career achievement to be unavailable to the citizens of Paso Robles, and to do your best to keep them in the dark about what is going on in their city. I think it is far more likely that your post here is a self-serving attempt to save yourself from ridicule because, if you really cared about your son being criticized, you would have addressed his actions on the internet long before now.


The simple fact that you, using the power of being city manager, have gone to such extreme steps as to delete public documents within weeks of their creation, and routinely refused to provide records requested under California’s Public Record Act, indicates your true attitude towards your willingness to be available and to inform PR citizens.


While you would like your critics to believe you’ve had a “come to Jesus” moment and learned the error of your ways, your years of duplicity and disdain for the public you are paid to serve speaks to your real agenda.


The only reasons you posted on CCN were to save yourself from your son’s unwise internet participation by attempting to cloak yourself in the “concerned father protecting his ‘child’ ” guise. The fact is, your son has been vilely attacking innocent posters, using the ef word, for months. His home-made videos have been up for months.


Yet it is only now that people are questioning why a parent failed to properly supervise his son that the nature of your son’s internet presence that you come forward.


It is this pimping of a concerned father’s attempt to shield his child from unjust criticism as a means to shield yourself that is, perhaps, the most offensive act you have pulled to date–and that is saying quite a lot. This is the act that you brought to us, and it is an act that speaks directly to your character.


Therefore, that is the act I will address.


Mr. App, the criticism of your son’s youtube nincompoopery originally really was not about you. You made yourself a part of it when you attempted to use the criticism of your son’s actions to play victim and shift the blame to those who simply voiced their opinion of your son’s actions on the internt.


Truly, this isn’t about you. It is about your son’s profane insults and odd videos on Youtube.


Here’s a clue: your son really is not that “special” (as the Church Lady would say), and–believe it or not–the reactions to what he does on the internet really has nothing to do with YOU. ANYBODY over 8 years old who saw that video would immediately think “loser” or worse, even if they lived on the North Pole and had never even heard of Paso Robles.


You are lucky links to his videos have not been broadcast out to the masses by someone who has no clue who your son is. His videos are so bad, they would be very popular, and he would be associated with a lot worse words than “loser.”


Mr. App, you should have thought about what other internet users’ reactions would be to your son’s insults and very odd videos before you allowed your son to talk trash–using the ef word on a public youtube channel–several times. You didn’t care how your son appeared then, did you? T


The fact that your son’s comments might have actually hurt someone’s feelings doesn’t seem to be an issue with you at all. Your son has yet to apologize for his profane insults.


It wasn’t until someone stated the obvious–that the video he made of himself made him look like a loser–that you decided to step in, wrapped in a cloak of faux fatherly outrage..


Where were you when he made his “ef” posts trashing someone who made a very innocuous comment in response to a video that wasn’t even your son’s? Those posts were allowed to be up for months. Why didn’t you insist he take them down?


Your son was raised in the internet generation. He should know that what you post publicly should be what you want others to see. And if he doesn’t, then it was your responsibility to give him the 411 on it.


Finally, why are those videos he made of himself–the one about the fireworks, holy Mother of God–still up for the world to see? GET THEM MADE “PRIVATE” if you don’t want all Youtube users to have access to them. Don’t blame others for stating the obvious when they stumble across his comments and videos.


You’ve been strutting around town for years now, like you were one royalty. You act like the realities we plebeians have to face somehow magically do not touch you.


Let this be a learning experience. Get control of your son’s internet use if you don’t want other internet users to publicly discuss your son’s activities. This is a reality ALL internet users have to live with. You really are not that “special,” Mr. App, and his actions will reflect on both him and you, whether you like it or not.


Cindy

What post? It didn’t get deleted, did it?


Cindy

For those who are interested, I found Jim Apps post. It was attached to a comment that got deleted so his post ended up an orphan at the bottom of the thread.


pasoparent5

Mr. App, thank you for your candor and availability.

If the CCN moderator will permit me, I’d like to accept your request to “take issue with you” and will address my criticisms directly at you.


Mr. App, you have acted incompetently and arrogantly. Your actions have cost the Paso taxpayers AT LEAST a quarter of a million bucks in payout money to your friend Lisa Chitty. Please explain to me why Paso residents are responsible for tarnishing her reputation?? Why is there not enough money in the city’s general fund to paint some curbs,stripe some roads and fix some potholes yet Lisa could get her absurdly exorbinant payout? And please explain why you and City Attorney Iris Yang approved her suspicious–dare I say BOGUS–workers comp claim knowing FULL WELL that she was not even “injured…”


Mr. App, another criticism I will direct to you is your utter failure to handle this whole debacle in a fair, impartial, and timely manner. If I understand correctly, these groping/retaliation/sexual harassment allegations came to light last fall yet you NEVER put Lisa Chitty on paid admin leave so a proper investigation could take place. How on earth can you justify keeping her on the job while these claims were supposedly investigated? Ridiculous. If Lisa were a male police chief accused of groping female subordinates, she would’ve been put on paid admin leave IMMEDIATELY. Your stubborn unwillingness to put Lisa on paid admin leave smacks of cronyism and no wonder locals criticize Paso’s city government for having a “good ol’ boy network!”


Mr. App, another criticism that I will address directly to you is that as City Manager, you did not properly vet Lisa Chitty for the position of Police Chief. You knew Dennis Cassidy was retiring but you did not do your best to find a well-qualified successor. Now you and the councilmen are paying 15 thousand MORE of our tax dollars for some consultant to find a replacement for Lisa but why didn’t that happen 5 years ago? It’s very interesting that no consultant was used and no public input was asked for back then…and look who we got. All I heard was the fanfare for Paso finally getting its first female police chief but it turns out we really got 5 years of Lisa promoting Amgen, singing at the Mid-State Fair, doing PR work for the wine festival and making our police force the laughingstock among county residents.


Finally, Mr. App, I hope you will be a man of ethics and integrity and do the right thing. Resign. Yeah, I know we’ll have to cough up ANOTHER $250K for your payout but frankly, it’ll be worth it. Paso residents have been through enough. We can–and will–vote out councilmen but we cannot vote you out and you know it. You should allow our city to have a fresh start by letting us hire a NEW city manager…someone impartial, competent, humble, and NOT part of Paso’s “good-ol-boy” network.


So there. I’ve directed my criticisms directly at you and I sincerely await your response.


Crusader

Amen! App needs to be pressured to quit. Now that Solomon is getting sued, I suspect all sorts of sordid details will be made public through discovery. Certainly enough for taxpayers to pressure the resignation of App.


danika

Well said!


jim app

You all go too far. Here I am; no anonymity. If you find fault with me, have at me. But please, do not attack my son. Yes, his comments were inappropriate. But for adults hiding behind an anonymous blog to go into his account and then criticize him on line with characterizations like”loozervision” is . . ., well there are no words.


I stand behind my words and actions. If you take issue with me, please address your criticisms directly at me. I invite you to meet with me – face to face, to discuss the issues. You may not agree with me even then, but at least you will know of whom you speak.


moderator

Some comments regarding the deleted YouTube comments have also been deleted.

questions and exclamations moderator@calcoastnews.com


Cindy

Mr App, Please be aware of the following before you continue to do what you’re best known for and that is to attack the messenger rather than place blame where blame is truly do.


A) Your son posted on a sloshank political video. He posted his name, he used F words and threatened to have his dad (the city manager) get the PD to arrest everybody who said anything about you, etc.


B) People wondered if this “jasperapp” character was really jasperapp so they went looking to see if he was on other boards.


C) They found him posting on U-Tube in a U-Tube genre called “looserville”.


D) Your son picked the genre’ “LOOSERVILLE” and as typical, you want to blame us for mentioning it!


whoswho

Dear Mr. App,

This seems to be one of the problems we have with society today, Not taking responsibilty for our actions. Cause and effect. Maybe, instead of taking issue with the posts here, You and your son should stand in front of a mirror and ask… Who is the problem here? Is it all these nasty people who are discussing REAL problems of the city or could it possible be me? Stand up, be a real man and teach your Son you need to give respect in order to receive respect. Good Luck.


pasoparent5

Yep. Looks like City Manager App’s been reading CCN again and saw my comments. His punk son threatens others & uses profanities on youtube and daddy takes notice. Good.


The mysterious removal of Mr. App’s son reminds me of Jim’s buddy, Lovely Lisa. Back in March, immediately after Chittygate, she publically posted on Facebook: “Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I leave the most honorable profession to find new joy, challenge and adventure! Thank you to all my colleagues and friends who have made my 26 year career such a success!”


A Trib poster took notice and posted Lisa’s unbelievable words. Within an hour or two, presto chango. Lovely Lisa changed her FB comments from public to private.


Sorry Lisa but your delusional words are still in cyberspace for all to see. Your 26 year career was a BOMB…a costly and utter failure…embarassment…definitely not a “success.”


Cindy

I recall that post of Lisa’s extremely well. It was spotted and brought to everyone’s attention “Dog’s not Cat’s”. She (DogsnotCats) stated that it was there for “all the world to read and cringe”. She wasn’t kidding, many of us still cringe as we recall Lisa and her blatant “ahah I won” attitude that she flagrantly waived in the public’s face.


The up side is that her flaunting of that post cost her the free funds she was anticipating from her bogus Workmans Comp case after she was told to shut up and drop her divisive WC claim by the same GOB’s who had already been put through enough grief over her inability to conduct herself as a professional.