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EXCLUSIVE: Lynwood Mayor Pro Tem Maria Santillan-Beas Sexually Harassed City Employee

 

Lynwood Mayor pro tem Maria Santillan Beas.

 

By Brian Hews
March 9, 2018, 2:48 p.m.

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained a lawsuit, originally filed in 2007, outlining allegations of sexual harassment by current Lynwood Mayor pro tem Maria Santillan-Beas against a former city employee.

In a sworn declaration attached to the lawsuit, the former employee, Laura Alderete, stated, “Mayor Santillan exposed her breast to me at work. This was unwanted and made me feel very uncomfortable.”

 

 

 


Page from Alderete’s declaration related to the sexual harassment.

 

 

The lawsuit involved other plaintiffs including N. Enrique Martinez and Maria Duarte, under case number BC374258 filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Martinez was City Manager at the time, Duarte and Alderete were employees.

Santillan-Beas’ actions were part of a much larger set of allegations against then-Councilmembers Louis Byrd, Fernando Pedroza, and Assistant City Manager Autra Adams, a culture of harassment within Lynwood City Hall that went on for over two years.

Adams was arrested in 2008 as an accessory to robbery and possessing a stolen handgun.

Byrd and Pedroza were convicted in 2012 of misappropriating public funds by illegally boosting their salaries. Byrd was sentenced to five years in prison, Pedroza to four years.

Harassment Started in 2006

Alderete was hired in 2006 and “quickly experienced sexual harassment from councilmembers Louis Byrd and Fernando Pedroza.”

Underlined: Alderete stated that after she told CM Martinez about the harassment, Martinez told  then-Councilwoman  Leticia Vasquez, yet the harassment continued.

 

Alderete said that she told [City Manager] Martinez of the harassment who subsequently told then-City Council Member and current Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) Director Leticia Vasquez.

Letica Vasquez

Vasquez, as she ignored CB Bob Apodaca’s sexual harassment and eventual $670,000 payout, apparently ignored Alderete’s pleas  and did nothing about the harassment.

Alderete stated, “the unwelcome comments and actions continued [after I told Martinez]. In conference room meetings, they would grab my hand and pull me close saying ‘hello love’ or ‘hi sugar,’ yet no one did anything.”

Alderete finally filed a formal complaint with Martinez who reported the incidents to the council.

Months later, Martinez was placed on administrative leave.

Why Was Santillan-Beas Deposition Sealed?

According to documents, Santillan-Beas was deposed by Alderete’s attorney, Bradley Gage, sometime in 2008.

During the deposition, City attorneys objected to questions, but the judge overruled and allowed Gage to continue his line of questioning.

Santillan-Beas’ answers to the questions evidently caused severe angst among the City attorneys because the attorneys later filed an ex parte motion for the deposition to be sealed saying, “[the questions] were an invasion of the Mayor’s privacy and unduly prejudicial to the Mayor.”

Gage agreed to the seal, but Santillan-Beas’ answers were included in the deposition.

Only a few months later, the lawsuit was settled by the City Council, with a motion made by then-Mayor pro tem and current City Councilwoman Aide Castro to settle.

Councilmember Mark Flores seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

According to the documents, Aldrete was paid $56,500, the documents noting that the City “is not admitting any liability.”

 

 

 

Document showing the settlement paid to Alderete, note Santillan-Beas voted on the settlement and signed the final document.

 

Sources are telling HMG-CN that Martinez and Duarte were paid similar amounts, with the lawsuit costing the City more that $150,000.

When contacted by HMG-CN, Santillan-Beas would not confirm nor deny she showed her breasts to Alderete.

Santillan-Beas told HMG-CN, “What the people of Lynwood are worried about is the recent sexual harassment complaint against Councilmember Edwin Hernandez that is currently being investigated by an independent counsel. The city will have that report very soon. What the people of Lynwood aren’t worried about is something that was alleged over 11 years ago that comes up every time someone wants to change the subject or deflect the attention of what is currently happening. I, like everyone else, want to see the independent investigator’s report so we can address what needs to be done to create a positive working climate in our city government.”

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