A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy is suing her employer, alleging she was wrongfully demoted earlier this year for resisting sexual harassment by a close associate of Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Deputy Lorraine Anda’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges sexual harassment, retaliation and harassment. She also names Lt. Jennifer Ford as a defendant and seeks at least $4 million in damages. The lawsuit was brought Monday.
“Sadly, county officials stand idly by and do nothing to stop the sheriff’s abuse of power and protect its employees and residents from his wrath,” the suit states. “The lack of accountability by the county encourages the sheriff to further abuse his office.”
Anda, hired in 2000, was promoted to sergeant in December 2018 and was assigned to Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, where she served as reception sergeant, the suit states. Ford, who was Anda’s relief worker, watched the plaintiff undress and sometimes put a hand on one of her shoulders while she was dressing in the locker room, the suit states.
Ford became hostile to Anda after an incident in the locker room in which the plaintiff pulled away from the lieutenant to show her resistance to the other woman’s alleged advances, according to the suit.
Ford is a close friend of Villanueva, who regularly retaliated against whistleblowers and any employee speaking out about harassment, the suit states.
Lt. Ford sought out deputies who had engaged in unsafe conduct and told them to lie and file grievances claiming Anda bullied them over their conduct, the suit states. Ford then used the deputies’ fake allegations to start an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation into Anda, the suit states.
Anda was demoted to deputy in March, causing her a sharp drop in pay, the suit states. Her future income losses will be in the millions, and she also suffers extreme emotional distress, the suit states.