By Associated Press - Sunday, May 9, 2021

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A San Diego sheriff’s department employee who sued the county and a former assistant sheriff over sexual harassment allegations was awarded $60,000 by a judge.

Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal issued her ruling late last month in a civil lawsuit brought by administrative secretary Louise LaFoy, awarding her $50,000 for the sexual harassment claim and $10,000 for claiming the department failed to prevent the harassment, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday.

LaFoy said former San Diego Assistant Sheriff Rich Miller improperly touched her buttocks during hugs in the workplace. LaFoy said she told a commander after the first time in 2014 but the report never went higher up the chain. She filed a formal complaint after the second incident in 2017.

Miller retired in 2018. During the trial he denied any inappropriate conduct. He was not immediately available for comment on the allegations or the ruling.

The San Diego sheriff’s department said in response to the ruling that it “does not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind and thoroughly investigates all reported or observed allegations.”

LaFoy said the ruling was “an awesome moment because my character and my truthfulness was on trial.”

Her attorney Jenna Rangel said the ruling “emphasizes that employers have to take every report of misconduct seriously. It is a big deal, and you need cases like these to show that this is a big deal.”

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