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Former DYRS chief resigns from California job
Claims he sexually harassed employees extend to D.C. days
The former chief of committed services for the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), David Muhammad, has resigned from his post as Alameda County’s chief probation officer, after an investigation by California authorities into accusations by a female subordinate that he sexually molested her.
His resignation is effective Aug. 3. A lawsuit by the unnamed subordinate has been filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
The accusations prompted the California State Attorney General’s Office to undertake an investigation because the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office had recused itself. Mr. Muhammad has denied the accusations and said he will cooperate fully with the investigation.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors accepted Mr. Muhammad’s resignation and issued a statement that read: “A thorough investigation conducted by an impartial third party concluded that allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Mr. Muhammad were not substantiated. Given this conclusion, Alameda County and Mr. Muhammad will continue to defend the civil action filed against them.”
It was unclear whether the county’s statement referred to the same investigation as the one undertaken by the state’s attorney general.
Mr. Muhammad, a key architect of the District’s juvenile justice reform effort under former DYRS Director Vincent N. Schiraldi, also was accused of stalking and molesting a female subordinate in the District years before the most recent accusations surfaced in February.
The multiple accusations against Mr. Muhammad suggest a troubling pattern.
According to that lawsuit, an unidentified female employee of DYRS was walking her dog at 6 a.m. outside her apartment in 2009 when she spotted Mr. Muhammad sitting in a truck staring at her. He obtained her personal cellphone number and called her on it, the lawsuit said, and he would summon her to his office on a work-related pretext then “grab her breasts and put his hands on her legs.”
As in the Alameda case, the female DYRS employee “repeatedly pushed him away,” the lawsuit states. She reported Mr. Muhammad to David Brown, then DYRS‘ deputy director, who transferred her to another division under a different supervisor. However, in an email from the employee to Mr. Brown dated June 4, 2010, obtained by The Washington Times, she portrays herself as a victim of retaliation by Mr. Brown and others as a result of her complaint against Mr. Muhammad.
The Times reviewed documents regarding a similar allegation by a current DYRS employee of molestation then retaliation. The documents included emails identifying Mr. Muhammad as a supervisor in the chain of command of the accused.
Mr. Muhammad referred to female employees of DYRS in derogatory terms in the presence of other female employees, the Alameda lawsuit states, and was not trustworthy in his dealings with committed youths or employees. At one point, he was pursuing so many subordinate female DYRS employees that a female correctional officer wrote a letter complaining about him to then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the lawsuit states.
Kelly Armstrong, a San Francisco-based attorney who filed the Alameda case, wrote in the lawsuit she was aware of two additional potential sexual-harassment complaints by former DYRS subordinates against Mr. Muhammad that are being investigated. She wrote that Mr. Muhammad was “given a pass” on the complaints because of his management position.
DYRS policy is to not comment on personnel matters or pending litigation.
During his tenure in the District, Mr. Muhammad oversaw 20,000 youths on probation, a staff of 600 and a $90 million budget, according to the Alameda County lawsuit. He left DYRS in 2010 to become deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation under Mr. Schiraldi, after Mr. Schiraldi became commissioner there. But Mr. Muhammad left New York for the position of chief probation officer in Alameda County in December 2010.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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