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Central Basin President Bob Apodaca’s Alleged Sexual Harassment Chronicled in Explicit Investigation Report

Central Basin President Bob Apodaca.

 

Caution: Strong language is used in this report.

 

By Brian Hews

In September of 2014, Hews Media Group-Community News exclusively obtained an agreement between Sigrid Lopez (Lopez) and Central Basin Municipal Water (CB) that used $670,000 in taxpayer funded dollars to settle a 2013 sexual battery and harassment lawsuit filed against current CB Board President Bob Apodaca.

 

Documents Confirm Central Basin Water Director Apodaca’s Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settled for $670,000

 

Apodaca, in a clear conflict of interest position, voted in favor of the settlement in a 2014 closed session meeting. Directors Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins were not present; both told HMG-CN at the time they would have voted no.

The payoff is similar to how Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) used $84,000 in taxpayer dollars to settle with a former aide who sued him for sexual harassment in 2014.

Now, a January 2014 Investigation Report, conducted by EXTTI, Inc. and exclusively obtained by HMG-CN, describes in extremely sexually explicit language the alleged harassment of Lopez by Apodaca.

 

 

The report also alleged Apodaca harassed other woman at CB.

The contents of the report likely compelled CB to enter into the record settlement agreement with Lopez, an agreement that allowed Apodaca to walk away.

The revelation and conclusions of the EXTTI report may have many calling for Apodaca’s resignation from the CB Board, similar to the resignations happening in some state governments, in both houses of Congress, and in many other private organizations as a result of the #MeToo movement.

It should also draw the attention of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

The investigation was conducted by EXTTI Vice-President Catherine Balin from Aug. 2013 to early Jan. 2014.

EXXTI Vice-President Catherine Balin.

In the report, Balin, a 30-year veteran, indicated that she took detailed notes of each interview and read the notes back to the interviewee, giving each the opportunity to make corrections. All interviewees signed a document attesting the notes were true and correct.

Lopez was employed with CB from July 2012 to January 2013 to provide CB public relations as a Client Relations Manager.

The most egregious harassment allegations investigated by Balin included Apodaca engaging in sexually explicit comments to Lopez and making physical sexual overtures towards Lopez including touching, patting her body, hugs, and kisses.

During one physical incident, Lopez alleged Apodaca grabbed her wrist and forcibly placed her hand on his groin.

Balin interviewed Lopez, former COO Chuck Fuentes, disgraced former CB GM Art Aguilar, and Apodaca’s good friend Leon Garcia who, similar to Lopez, had a Service Agreement with CB in 2012.

Balin also interviewed CB Directors Art Chacon, Phil Hawkins and then-Director Ed Vazquez, attorney Arnold Glasman, then-Assistant to the GM Ron Bielke, CB employees Maggie Gomez and Sandi Linares-Plimpton and Apodaca’s common-law wife Caroline Medrano.

Explicit Harassment From the Beginning

According to the report, Lopez said Apodaca hinted at having a sexual relationship early in their working relationship.

Lopez alleged that Apodaca would constantly ask about her personal life and made many extremely offensive and explicit sexual comments.

The comments included references to her breasts; asking if she liked sex with her boyfriend; anal sex; if she knew what a Brazilian Wax was; that Apodaca would enjoy a ‘Monica Lewinski;’ and while she was chewing gum he would say, “man I would love to be that gum in your mouth.”

Apodaca also said, “that he often thought of being with her, and wanted her to be his girlfriend.”

Lopez recalled that Apodaca even suggested a possible “threesome” with his good friend Leon Garcia.

On another occasion, Lopez alleged Apodaca called to her home asking, “what she was doing, what underwear she was wearing, and did she sleep naked?”

Lopez told Balin that the suggestions were “common refrains” from Apodaca during her employment at CB and that she did inform Fuentes, Glasman, and Bielke.

Within a few weeks, Fuentes, Glasman, and Bielke were gone from CB.

From Verbal to Physical

Lopez said the sexual overtures became physical when Apodaca took her to Mr. V’s Bar and Grill in La Mirada late December 2012.

 

 

After the two hour dinner, where Lopez claimed Apodaca was “continually caressing” her hand and urging her to drink, they went back to Apodaca’s house.

As Lopez was getting out of the car, Apodaca “gave me a pat/hug and a peck on the cheek.”

That was the first time Apodaca became physical with Lopez, but it would not be the last.

Towards the end of her employment, another more frightening incident occurred with Lopez alleging that, after getting into his car, Apodaca grabbed her wrist and pushed her hand onto his groin.

Lopez described Apodaca’s repulsive language, [he said] “give it some time, I will feel it and like it and would I at least touch it and I said no and you are hurting me. He said come on just touch it I promise you I will not last that long [and] you will like it.”

Lopez quickly exited the car; it was the last time she would see Apodaca.

Witness Interviews

The Balin interviews of eleven CB employees led her to conclude that Apodaca “more likely than not” engaged in sexually explicit comments to Lopez and made physical sexual overtures towards Lopez including touching, patting her body, hugs, and kisses.

Fuentes first told Balin, “Lopez informed me that Apodaca told her she really wanted to kiss her; he commented about her breasts; and he told her he wanted to do a tag team with Leon Garcia.”

Bielke indicated that he met with Lopez in late December, was aware of the allegations and made them known to others; soon after, Bielke was fired.

Leon Garcia denied the allegations calling them ludicrous, and “that kind of banter does not sound like anything Apodaca would say.”

Garcia’s statement was in direct contradiction to Fuentes’ comments. Later, Garcia would once again be contradicted by Aguilar’s interview comments.

Glasman, Directors Chacon, Vasquez and Hawkins had conversations with Lopez about Apodaca’s comments, all three told her to go to Fuentes, which she already had.

Aguilar described Apodaca as, “kind of a chauvinistic guy, during golf tournaments, there were often young girls at various golfing events they attended and Apodaca would encourage the girls to go along with the guys who were making off-color jokes or sexual innuendos. Apodaca would make comments like ‘do you want to hold their balls’ or he recalls Apodaca would-right in front of the girls-say to the guys ‘what do you think of her ass’ or ‘tits.’ Aguilar stated that Apodaca’s opinion of women was not very high.”

Apodaca Denies Allegations

When Balin interviewed Apodaca he denied everything, telling Bailin, “he never made any sexual related comments or anything else of that nature.”

But Balin was very clear she did not believe Apodaca.

Balin wrote, “Apodaca was less than forthcoming and/or inconsistent in his statements. He would initially either deny or provide limited information, but as the questions persisted, his responses kept shifting.”

At one time Apodaca completely offended Balin making a sexual reference during an interview about his sex life with his wife Caroline then stopping himself.

Conversely, Balin found Lopez to be very credible and measured in her responses.

“During the phone call where Apodaca asked ‘what she was doing, what underwear she was wearing, and did she sleep naked,’ Lopez said the call only happened once, where she could have said it happened several times.”

Balin concluded that Apodaca “more likely than not” engaged in sexually charged comments to Lopez and made physical sexual overtures towards Lopez including touching, patting her body, hugs, and kisses.

Balin and EXXTI submitted their report Jan. 15, 2014.

Apodaca allegedly learned of the report a few days earlier and, in closed session, voted to forward it to then-GM Tony Perez who submitted it to ACWA-JPIA (CB’s insurance company) for settlement.

Six months later, Lopez was paid $670,000 and EXXTI was paid over $30,000.

HMG-CN exclusively reported on the settlement in September 2014, but it was swept under the rug, until now.

HMG–CN sent an email to all CB Board members for comment also calling Director Mark Grejeda who hung up later texting that he did not want to comment.

All others except Directors Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins had no comment, relying on an agency-wide comment from Joseph Legaspi.

Director Chacon told HMG-CN, “this report is explosive and exposes Apodaca. I reported him to Art Aguilar when President Ed Vasquez and I caught him with his wife’s daughter Kara Medrano at the office, and nothing was done. He knew back then that ACWA-JPIA would find an amount to settle out of court while making the victim sign a confidentiality agreement ensuring her silence, people’s water bills are paying for this guys fun and games.”

Director Hawkins said, “this is a very disturbing report and they knew about it. The action they took was to make the handling of a serious matter, the sexual assault of another person, a routine administrative issue to pass off to ACWA-JPIA, outrageous.”

In an email, CB’s Joseph Legaspi wrote, “The Central Basin Municipal Water District is committed to providing a workplace free of harassment including sexual harassment. This includes providing and requiring training for all Board Members, managers and supervisors on sexual and all other forms of prohibited harassment and abusive conduct. Central Basin’s policy prohibiting harassment of any kind applies to all Board Members, employees, interns, volunteers, and agents of the District. ”

“In speaking with Director Apodaca, he vehemently denies the allegations from the report. ”

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments on "Central Basin President Bob Apodaca’s Alleged Sexual Harassment Chronicled in Explicit Investigation Report"

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#MeToo
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Harvey Weinstein and Bob Apodaca are like twins. Apodaca must resign or the whole #MeToo movement is a joke!

Confused in Cerritos
Guest
This newspaper has been exposing the horrors of this agency for years now. I hope Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is taking notice of this swamp that she created when she saved it from extinction by adding three non-elected “water pros” to the Board. Her office needs to demand Apodaca resign immediately! She has called for Sen. Tony Mendoza to step down and his alledged sins which are a joke compared to this perverted sick clown. This newspaper should seek her thoughts on this report and report on what plans she has to rid us of Apodaca and all of Central Basin
Charles+Esq.
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Apodaca molested his own step-daughter? Why isn’t the pig in jail? Is his wife still with him? She should be in jail too!

Gooch
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Bob is a pig