‘Because it Was Wrong’: Male Officers Accuse Female Sheriff of Sexual Harassment Decades Later

Three male officers, two named and one unnamed, have come forward with allegations that Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, the first female sheriff in the California, sexually harassed them and retaliated against rebuffed advances decades ago.

Retired Sgt. Gary Brady, former corrections officer Ed Albanoski and an unidentified 30-year veteran corrections officer have all said that they were subjected to harassment by Smith.

Brady said that he believes Smith should be held accountable despite the incidents occurring decades ago.

“Because it was wrong,” he told local ABC7.

Smith has said the allegations are false.

He told reporter Dan Noyes that in 1991 Smith “undressed and she got on top of me and she wanted me to do some things that I’m embarrassed to talk about now.”

Brady said that after a night of drinking there was an incident in a county car. Both he and Smith were married. Brady said he stopped it by saying, “It’s time to go.”

Smith denied that it happened.

Brady further alleged, however, that Smith retaliated against him by removing him from a narcotics team. He said she recalled her saying, “It’s about time the females in this department get the good jobs.” He filed a gender discrimination complaint in 1996, but was told the allegations were not “substantiate[d]” by evidence and witness accounts.

Albanoski said Smith exposed herself to him during lunch at Elmwood Women’s Jail in the late 1980s. He claimed he declined her invites for drinks and she retaliated against him years later.

“[S]he 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,” he said. Albanoski said that he was out of work for two years because of an injury he suffered while on duty and that when he tried to get his job back Smith turned him down.

“I was basically pleading with her to get my job back. She goes, ‘Well, you should have been nicer to me at Elmwood,'” he said. “She actually said that. My response was, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.'”

The third officer didn’t want to be named because he has children, but he said Smith harassed him “on multiple occasions.” His attorney Josh Boxer told ABC News 7 he never came forward because he feared retaliation.

“He had experienced sexual harassment from Sheriff Smith and remained silent or largely silent, I should say, over the years fearing retaliation,” he said.

The officer said Smith propositioned him multiple times, including at the 1994 World Cup. In one instance, he said, he was uncomfortable with the way Smith was touching herself. He did not elaborate. He mentioned another incident where Smith allegedly touched a baton in a suggestive way.

ABC News tried to interview Smith, but she said she was busy. She later said through a spokesperson that the allegations amounted to an  attack on her reputation.

“These false narratives are nothing more than an orchestrated attack on the integrity of the Sheriff’s Office and my personal reputation,” she said.

[Image via screengrab]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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