Gilroy Police Department Accused of Hosting Sex Parties With Young Police Explorers

Demoted Sgt. Royce Heath is named in the lawsuit and the subject of misconduct allegations.

Members of the Gilroy Police Department are accused of hosting sex parties, exposing themselves at a Christmas party and having inappropriate relations with young Police Explorers in a suit filed by a police dispatcher who was fired in 2015.

The 60-page NSFW suit names names—including high-ranking officers, police wives and girlfriends—and graphically describes alleged sexual misconduct and possibly criminal conduct. In addition, plaintiff Patricia Harrell says in the suit filed Aug. 7 in state Superior Court that she faced harassment for complaining about the activity.
City officials had little to say about the suit.

Though neither Police Chief Scot Smithee nor Public Information Officer Jason Smith were available for comment, Captain Kurt Svardal, who has been with the force since 1992, said he would not make any comments about pending litigation.

“I have not seen it,” said Svardal. “I am sure the city has it. Obviously it’s pending litigation so we won’t make any comment. I’m sure the city will viigorously defend it and I’m not going to comment yet because I don’t know the contents.”

Harrell, a veteran senior police communications supervisor, was fired three years short of full pension eligibility. She was sacked for alleged improper conduct with trainees when she attempted to warn them about the situation in the GPD.

She had worked for the department since 1990.

But Harrell, a wife of 29 years and mother of four, claims her termination was part of a coordinated and purposeful pattern of retaliation that began when she objected to the sexually charged environment and conduct that permeated the department, on and off-duty, warned coworkers to watch out for certain officers and attempted to improve the department’s procedures and professionalism.

Higher ups in the department ordered others to “F…” with her, meaning make her life miserable, according to the suit.

As a result, Harrell claims, she was harassed, threatened, investigated and reinvestigated, called names, subjected to unwanted sexual advances, disciplined, shunned, admonished, punished, overworked to the point of exhaustion, wrongly accused of wrongdoing and ultimately fired.

The alleged overworking resulted in nearly $22,000 in overtime pay in 2015, according to official city records published by the nonprofit, Transparent California.

At the time of her termination in March 2016, Harrell had earned $127,400 in salary and overtime the year before and her compensation included another nearly $46,000 in city-paid benefits.

When Harrell complained internally about what she was being put through, her suit alleges, she received no support from the other high-ranking female on the force, former Police Chief Denise Turner, the department hierarchy or the city administration, the suit alleges.

Harrell’s civil suit alleges 13 counts of wrongdoing by the city and her union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.

They include age and gender discrimination, sexual harassment, violations of federal civil rights laws, negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination. The suit demands a trial by jury.

If even some of what Harrell alleges is true, it raises serious questions about a department whispered for years to be rife with sexual promiscuity and misconduct, and about what the city’s elected officials and administrators did or did not know and when, and about overall leadership, oversight, judgment and commitment to the law in the years leading up to Harrell’s dismissal.

Harrell, “loved helping the community and her peers,” according to the suit, and was Dispatcher of the Year in several years and recognized at the County and State level for her public safety work.”

And, she had an unblemished performance record with no discipline “until 2006, which the City of Gilroy later admitted was unwarranted.”

That discipline was meted out by former Police Chief Gregg Giusiana, who later apologized, according to the suit, and said he should have acted differently.

The suit describes Harrell as a “happily married” wife and mother who had known many of the police officers since they were kids.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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