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Former DYRS official investigated in sex assault claim
Question of the Day
The former chief of committed services for the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), a key architect of the District’s juvenile justice reform effort, was placed on paid leave recently from his job as chief probation officer in Alameda County, Calif., after a deputy filed a $1.5 million legal claim accusing him of sexually assaulting her in May.
David Muhammad, who also is known as David Gaither, is under investigation by San Francisco Bay Area authorities based on the deputy’s claim, according to news reports saying the case has been turned over to the California State Attorney General’s Office after the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office recused itself.
Mr. Muhammad, 38, has denied the allegations and said he will cooperate fully with the investigation.
Attorneys for the 30-year-old accuser said in a Feb. 3 claim that problems with Mr. Muhammad began in May 2011 when, they say, he touched her neck, commented inappropriately about a small bruise and twice put his hands on her, according to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Her claim states that later that month, after she picked Mr. Muhammad up at the Oakland International Airport and was driving him to a speaking engagement, he directed her to a nearby marina, where he grabbed and started kissing her, saying, “We would make some pretty babies.”
The claim further states that Mr. Muhammad then pulled the deputy’s shirt down, pinned her with his elbow, assaulted her and made obscene comments. A day later, the attorneys wrote that Mr. Muhammad sent her text messages requesting to meet with her. The deputy’s claim states that she met Mr. Muhammad and his brother at a restaurant, but that afterward, as she was driving Mr. Muhammad to his car, he again molested her and forced her hand into his groin area.
DYRS officials did not respond to requests for comment.
During his tenure in the District, Mr. Muhammad was the right-hand man to former DYRS Director Vincent N. Schiraldi, and, according to his web site, he managed a 300-person staff and a $42 million annual budget while overseeing 900 youth committed to DYRS.
Mr. Schiraldi left in 2010 to become commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation, where Mr. Muhammad joined him as deputy commissioner. Mr. Muhammad soon left New York and assumed the position of chief probation officer in Alameda County in December 2010. Officials there have not publicly commented on the decision to place him on paid leave.
An Oakland, Calif., native, Mr. Muhammad received a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in journalism and has received awards for his work in advocating for troubled youth. During his frequent public appearances he speaks openly of his own troubles as a youth raised in inner city poverty and of the need to help criminal offenders lead productive lives.
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