Three Former Employees Are Accusing Sheriff Laurie Smith Of Sexual Harassment

Three Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department employees have come forward with allegations against Sheriff Laurie Smith.

San Jose, CA – California’s first female sheriff has denied allegations that she sexually harassed at least three former employees over the course of her decades with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

The accusations against Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith came to light in April, after one of the men – a 30-year correctional officer – submitted his letter of retirement, KGO reported.

"You will recall how, on multiple occasions, you sexually harassed me,” the officer wrote in the letter, which was sent specifically to Sheriff Smith.

That letter has become part of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department’s Equal Opportunity Department (EOD) investigation.

"He had experienced sexual harassment from Sheriff Smith and remained silent or largely silent, I should say, over the years fearing retaliation," the officer’s attorney, Josh Boxer explained.

The officer said that Sheriff Smith first propositioned him when she was his supervisor at the Main Jail, KGO reported.

The officer explained that the sheriff touched herself in a way that made him uncomfortable.

During a second instance, the officer said Sheriff Smith “suggestively handled a police baton,” KGO reported.

The final occasion took place as they were both working the 1994 World Cup at Stanford Stadium, the officer said.

During that instance, Sheriff Smith propositioned him in a trailer, he said.

The officer, who asked not to be identified to help protect his children, has since filed a lawsuit alleging age and disability discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, KGO reported.

Boxer said he planned to depose Sheriff Smith in the next month or two, but that the county has been objecting.

“Our case continues to grow," Boxer told KGO. "And it's certainly bolstered by the other individuals who have come forward as well with similar stories of harassment."

Former undercover narcotics Officer Gary Brady said that Sheriff Smith propositioned him during a convention in November of 1991.

Sheriff Smith was second-in-command at the department at the time, and had joined in a night of drinking with Officer Brady and other department personnel, he said.

Officer Brady noted that he and Sheriff Smith were both married, but that they wound up having an encounter in an unmarked patrol unit parked outside a hotel.

"She undressed and she got on top of me and she wanted me to do some things that I'm embarrassed to talk about now,” Officer Brady told KGO.

He said he cut the encounter short, and told her it was “time to go.”

Officer Brady said that Sheriff Smith retaliated against him after the incident by removing him from the Allied Agencies Narcotics Enforcement Team, so he confronted her.

"I always remember her vein on the left side just standing up," he told KGO. "And she told me, 'It's about time the females in this department get the good jobs.'"

Officer Brady went on to file a gender discrimination grievance with the department, and later filed a sexual harassment complaint with the county, but both of his claims were denied, he said.

According to Officer Brady, investigators admitted to him that they spoke with a few of his witnesses, but not everyone.

“Maybe Laurie Smith liked you,” one of the investigators told him, according to Officer Brady.

A third employee, former Deputy Ed Albanoski, alleged that Sheriff Smith made sexual advances towards him one day in the late 1980s as he was on his lunch break at the Elmwood Women’s Jail.

“She had her uniform shirt unbuttoned down to like the third button, not wearing a t-shirt, not wearing a bra, and kind of exposing herself to me," Deputy Albanoski told KGO. She then asked him to go out for drinks on two occasions that day, but he said he declined.

Deputy Albanoski was later injured in the line of duty, and was out on disability for two years before he went to then-Assistant Sheriff Smith to talk about rejoining the department.

"I was basically pleading with her to get my job back,” he said. “She goes, 'Well, you should have been nicer to me at Elmwood.’"

Deputy Albanoski and Officer Brady said they have no plans to file lawsuits against Sheriff Smith or the department, but that they wanted voters to hear their stories before the sheriff’s election.

Sheriff Smith has adamantly denied the men’s allegations and insinuated that their personnel files held unfavorable information about them.

“It’s all false. Absolutely false,” she told KGO. “If you get a waiver from them for their personnel records that would probably tell you a lot."

But despite the officers’ signed waivers, the department has not yet provided any material that raised questions about the officers’ credibility, KGO reported.

Sheriff Smith has served five terms in her current position, and has been a member of the sheriff’s department for 45 years, the Daily Mail reported.

She is up for reelection on Tuesday.

Comments (8)
No. 1-8
cspcapt
cspcapt

now this should be interesting!

John.Brown
John.Brown

Waiting for the trolls to come out and condemn this abuse of police power. Not holding my breath.

LordSeamus
LordSeamus

Like I've always said.... discrimination works both ways.

smitty195
smitty195

This article is interesting. I have been a member of public safety agencies in Santa Clara County during the entire time period being talked about here. I recognize a few of the names, and while I do not know Sheriff Smith nor have I ever met her, I recall stories about her decades ago. I wish I could recall the details, but the general theme matches what is written here. I could be wrong, but it seems to me like you can't be in ANY job that long (as a boss) and not make mistakes with employees along the way. I don't know if these folks are reporting the truth or if they're making it up to try to prevent her from winning the Sheriff's election AGAIN, but I suppose anything is possible. And I can also say that back in the 80s, sexual harrassment like this was not "sexual harrassment" like it is today. Sorry, but I'm not agreeing with it, I'm simply stating that as someone who worked in public safety during these years and knew lots of deputies, the way things worked back then are much different than the way things work today. So I don't know what to think of this story....there is so much hearsay, it was so long ago when things were different, and this stuff is coming out during a period of maximum damage to someone running for reelection of Sheriff. I would hate for someone to tell the world how I was in the 1980s. I never sexually harrassed anyone, but so many things could easily be taken out of context because of how much has changed. Just my two cents.....definitely not taking sides here. Just stating that that was then, and this is now.

HCD_is_my_bitch
HCD_is_my_bitch

During a second instance, the officer said Sheriff Smith “suggestively handled a police baton,” KGO reported.

LEO0301
LEO0301

I've been sexually harassed over the years but to be honest, it just didn't bother me. I even had a dispatcher give me a Christmas gift at a department party. The gift was underwear with an elephant trunk fly. Everyone laughed, including the Chief. I was slightly embarrassed because I was newly married and it was a little over the edge, even for me. But it certainly wasn't something I was going to make a big deal about. If I wasn't interested in someone, I let them know. And if I was interested, I also let them know.

informative6361
informative6361

Why do these things always have to go on for decades before anyone does anything? It's like every time I see a Bill Cosby story in the news I scratch my head and wonder how many of these creeps get away with it until they are 80 years old and how many escape justice because they don't make it to 80?