SAN LEANDRO (CBS SF) – The chief executive of a nonprofit group said Tuesday that she’s disappointed that an independent investigation found that the sexual harassment allegations she made against San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata lacked credibility.
Rose Padilla Johnson, the chief executive of the Davis Street Family Resource Center, a nonprofit group that helps poor and disadvantaged people gain access to healthcare, said in a statement that she believes the investigation and findings by Karen Kramer of Kramer Workplace Investigations “favored the aggressor in this misconduct case.”
Johnson alleged that Zapata was the aggressor.
City of San Leandro officials said Kramer’s five-month investigation included interviews with nine people and the review of hundreds of documents, emails and text messages.
Zapata had been on administrative leave since Jan. 23, pending the completion of the investigation into the allegation by Rose Padilla Johnson, the chief executive of the Davis Street Family Resource Center, a nonprofit group that helps poor and disadvantaged people gain access to healthcare, that Zapata sexually harassed her.
San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter said in a statement, “The City Council has unanimously accepted the findings of the independent investigator. The City Council has also determined that it is appropriate for the City Manager to return to his duties.”
Cutter said, “City Manager Zapata denied all wrongdoing and the investigation concluded that his testimony was credible. We are eager to move forward and strongly advise everyone involved to continue to work together for the betterment of San Leandro.”
The mayor said, “Through his work as city manager, Chris Zapata has brought many positive changes to San Leandro. We look forward to working with him to maintain that momentum.”
But Johnson said, “Although Zapata is being returned to his role as city manager, I think the public will always be wary of dealing with him, particularly, when there are no witnesses. This is obviously a challenge for a position that, at times, requires confidentiality.”
Johnson said, “The City Council must ensure that no woman doing business with the city is ever forced to accept offensive behavior from the highest-ranking employee of the city. Throughout the country we are seeing how very widespread this problem is and how damaging it is to the organizations that have for too long tolerated the mistreatment.”
Johnson said, “We must challenge our leaders to lead by example. In the future, the city manager must be compelled to conduct himself appropriately and to execute the work of the city with the highest standards of fairness.”
Johnson alleged earlier this year that Zapata attempted to pressure her into having a sexual relationship with him in exchange for continued public funding for services for needy community members.
Johnson’s attorney Jane Brunner alleged in a letter to San Leandro officials that Johnson was subjected to “a pattern of sexual harassment, political pressure and ultimately defamation” by Zapata.
Johnson, who has worked with Davis Street for 26 years, alleged that the abuse began when Zapata first became city manager in 2012.
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