Santa Barbara undersheriff retires amid sexting scandal

November 27, 2013

Former Santa Barbara County Undersheriff Jim Peterson exchanged more than 1,500 text messages in the last year with a female employee of the sheriff’s office in the last year, according to a claim filed earlier this month with the Santa Barbara County Clerk’s Office. [Independent]

Peterson retired from the sheriff’s office last month after Sheriff Bill Brown launched an investigation into an alleged affair his second-in-command was having with former search and rescue team spokesperson Valerie Walston.

The sheriff’s office demoted Walston from her position and terminated on October 22. Walston then filed the sexual harassment claim with the county on November 15. The claim is the first step in the process of filing a civil lawsuit.

“Ms. Walston’s termination on October 22, 2013, was clearly pretextual due to the fact that she was forced to engage in a sexual with Mr. Peterson,” the claim alleges. “Finally, as a result of everything that has happened, she has also been blackballed in the community and lost everything that she had held so dear to her.”

Walston alleges Peterson used his position to coerce her into sexting, kissing, groping and fondling.

However, the results of the sheriff’s office outside investigation told a different narrative, Brown said.

“The narrative attached to the plaintiff’s tort claim is an incomplete representation of what transpired compared to the results of our investigation,” Brown said.

Sources told independent that Walston pursued a relationship with Peterson so he would promote her. Walston had applied to become the sheriff’s public information officer position, but did not receive the position.

The claim alleges that in the string of text messages Peterson wanted Walston to refer to them as “Christian” and “Anastasia,” two characters from the novel Fifty Shades of Grey. He also asked her to speak French to him, the claim alleges.

“She clearly knew that she had lost complete control over the situation and had to do whatever Mr. Peterson said or risk losing the one job that she loved and any potential for career advancement,” the claim states.




  1. SLOBIRD says:

    These stories are always interesting. Two people engage in inappropriate behavior in the workplace, engage in this behavior for at least a year, then either one gets tired of the other or one or both get caught, pressure mounts, stress heightened, turns to fear, angry, hatred and then the tower of cards comes crushing down and someone gets caught in the middle. This is a he said she said but it was carried on for at least a year. Shame on all the parties involved. The bigger question for me is not the untasteful affair but rather why one was allowed to retire and one got fired. They were both involved and should have been handled the same,

    Bruce Gibson, County Supervisor, his girlfriend and SLO taxpayers should take notice!

    (18) 20 Total Votes - 19 up - 1 down
  2. slotired says:

    So, the majority here find it acceptable for a high ranking government official to send text images of his penis to a low level subordinate. Anti-sexual harassment polices, common sense, and that fact that this man is married are apparently of little significance. That is disturbing. It does take two to engage in such an affair and she obviously is short on morals, but he is paid rather handsomely to know when to tame his tiger. When this scandal broke, Sheriff Browne should have announced that an investigation was under way rather than wishing his buddy well upon his retirement. As a taxpayer, I am offended by the actions of all three, Peterson, Walston and Brown. But Walston is the only one of the three that has laws in place to protect her and the other two know that. This incident exemplifies the reason why the public has lost faith in the government created to protect us.

    (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
  3. kayaknut says:

    “Peterson retired from the sheriff’s office last month” another public employee allowed to take his money for life and leave. Where are the other employees saying how wrong this is, the answer no where, they don’t want to ruin a good thing

    (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
  4. kavery says:

    Read the Independent. Watson he tried to stop him went she told her supervisor according, then the sheriff fired her. That’s called retaliation, people, and it’s illegal. And of course Bill Brown’s investigation paints Watson and not Peterson as the bad seed. Brown is running for reelection and needs to make it look like his #2 was a wise move on his end. Bill Brown is politicking and trying to cover his own dirty little tracks. It’s sad that that poor girl was first sexually assaulted and now under personal attack for no reason by the Sheriff.

    (-5) 19 Total Votes - 7 up - 12 down
    • Datacloud says:

      “Watson he tried to stop him went she told her supervisor according, then the sheriff fired her.”


      (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
      • kavery says:

        According to the Independent. Watson told her supervisor to get Peterson to stop his antics.

        (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
    • zaphod says:

      give us a link FGS

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  5. shapirojc says:

    Peterson was obviously an abusive boyfriend, and you don’t just stop an abusive boyfriend. There are ramifications when you try to stop an abusive boyfriend. I’m concerned why Sheriff Brown allowed this to go on for a whole year, and why he punished Walston and not Peterson.

    (1) 15 Total Votes - 8 up - 7 down
  6. letsbhonest says:

    What a STUPID piece of business this women is! A SMART women would have gone to
    HUMAN RESOURCES and reported this fool from the get go, and to let it go on and on just
    Says she loved every minute of it until they got caught. Then she yells “sexual harassment”
    As loud as she can! She says she lost everything dear to her? Ummmmmm…well thats what
    Usually happens when your stupid enough to engage in inappropriate behaviors and weren’t
    A STRONG women and reported this fool……You weren’t SMART enough secretly record this
    Fool so you would have evidence to prove your self……NOPE……..50 Shades of Stupid!!!!!!!

    (18) 30 Total Votes - 24 up - 6 down
    • Sarah Bellum says:

      It sounds like you’ve got plenty of experience turning down your employer’s requests for sexual favors. How’s unemployment treating you?

      (-13) 19 Total Votes - 3 up - 16 down
      • letsbhonest says:

        No…’s called being taught the difference between right and wrong….it’s being taught
        To be women enough to stand up and protect yourself and have the confidence to do
        So……it’s called self respect……’s called having great role models in life
        Called MY PARENTS!!!!! What’s your story?

        (19) 27 Total Votes - 23 up - 4 down
        • Sarah Bellum says:

          I get it…. Your parents are still supporting you because you’ve never put up with harassment or abuse for the sake of a paycheck.

          (-17) 25 Total Votes - 4 up - 21 down
          • letsbhonest says:

            60 SHADES OF STUPIDITY……….KEEP GOING!!!!!!!!!!

            (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down
            • Sarah Bellum says:

              No. I’ll stop here. I doesn’t matter whether Walston is a saint or a skank. It doesn’t matter whether she’s a genius or a fool. It doesn’t even matter if she secretly welcomed Peterson’s advances. He should never had made them in the first place.

              (3) 19 Total Votes - 11 up - 8 down
              • letsbhonest says:

                As she should have reported him to upper management
                And kicked him in the nuts “in the first place”

                (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
  7. NorCoMod says:

    Peterson – Public Retirement – Kaching Kaching
    Walston – Settlement from SB Co. – Kaching Kaching
    SB public taxpayer – Zippo, Zilch screwed again

    (24) 28 Total Votes - 26 up - 2 down

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