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December 20, 2017

Rackauckas Allowed Workplace Sexual Harassment


OC Grand Jury Found A “Boys-Will-Be-Boys” Mentality Was Used To Trivialize Inappropriate Male Behavior

 

 

Orange County – December 20 – Rackauckas’ complacency and continued lack of oversight as a workplace leader led to an abusive culture of sexual misconduct at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. In 2015, an email complaint sent to county officials, including Rackauckas, warned of the predatory nature of Chief Investigator for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Craig Hunter, who allegedly “sexted” and solicited nude photographs while on duty from his county phone according to a complainant who is an attorney licensed in the state of California. Craig Hunter remained in the office for two years after the incident. Rackauckas apparently took no action against Hunter for nearly two years after the email warning. Hunter's eventual termination as Chief coincided with the Grand Jury investigation into Rackauckas and his tolerance for sexual misconduct. In fact, both Hunter and the Assistant Chief, Lou Gutierrez, were both let go from the DA's office at the time the Grand Jury findings and conclusions were publicly announced.

 

The 2016 -2017 Orange County Grand Jury (OCGJ) alleged a culture of sexual misconduct and favoritism existed at the District Attorney’s Office under Rackauckas and that the sheer magnitude of complaints suggested staff were being subjected to a “hostile work environment”, (Page 3, OCGJ 2016-2017), and a general and deplorable perception that a “good old boys club” existed in the Bureau, (Page 5, OCGJ 2016-2017).

 

 

According to the Grand Jury, Tony Rackauckas’ own employees were too afraid to come forward and report harassment because “they believed there would be retaliation by career curtailment or job loss”, (Page 8, OCGJ 2016-2017). The hostile work environment was so severe that many of the victims spoke of their fear of reporting incidents to Human Resources "because they believed it would be reported back to the harassers” (Page 8, OCGJ 2016-2017). A key element of the Grand Jury report was to question why the District Attorney controls his own Human Resources department when the county already has a centralized Human Resources department. Apparently we have our answer.

 

Shockingly, in interviews with management at the District Attorney’s office a “boys-will-be-boys” mentality (Page 9, OCGJ 2016-2017) was used to trivialize and dismiss the allegations of harassment from female victims. Those interviewed downplayed the significance of the complaints, dismissing such alarming behavior as men “just chasing skirts”, (Page 9, OCGJ 2016-2017).

 

Supervisor Todd Spitzer made the following statement, “Many of the complaints leveed in recent weeks against high-profile men stem from alleged behavior in the workplace. It is the duty of workplace leaders to demand accountability and swiftly fire perpetrators over sexual misconduct in the workplace.”

 

“Rackauckas was warned that there was apparently a potentially serious problem with Craig Hunter’s inappropriate behavior and yet Rackauckas allowed it to go on for two years, leaving his staff unprotected and vulnerable. The huge volume of complaints related to sexual relationships at the office meant the Grand Jury were forced to intervene. The District Attorney prides himself as being a leader against sex trafficking but his inaction against office predators led to a culture of sexual impropriety to which he subjected his own employees, creating victims. While I am not at liberty to discuss issues from closed session at the Board of Supervisors, such information shared with the Board confirms all my opinions in this release.”

 

The allegations reported to the OCGJ by Rackauckas' employees include (2016-2017 OCGJ Page 8):

 

Multiple incidents of transmission of sexually suggestive pictures through emails and text messages.

Inappropriate sexual and racial jokes and pictures transmitted via email and text messages.

Unwelcome sexual behavior between some members of management and subordinates.

Unwelcome touching. Sexual encounters at training conferences.

Sexually explicit comments about coworkers’ body parts.

 

Spitzer concluded, “If workplace leaders fulfill their duty, victims feel more empowered to come forward and bystanders won’t sit on the side-lines. Changing the workplace culture for women starts with proper leadership. I will always protect women and help bring down sexual predators.”

 

Chief Strategist, John Thomas, for the Todd Spitzer for District Attorney campaign said, "Rackauckas apparently allowed an environment for sexual predators to roam and take advantage of women. He has fundamentally broken the public's trust - botching critical slam dunk death penalty cases, violating Marsy’s Law, silencing victims’ voices and apparently allowing predators to operate freely within his office."

 

Link to Orange County Grand Jury Report, 2016-2017: http://www.ocgrandjury.org/pdfs/2016_2017_GJreport/2017-06-27_Hostile_Work_Enviro.pdf

 

Excerpt form email complaint sent to County Officials in 2015 (personal contact information has been omitted):

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