Assistant state attorney general in San Diego accused of sexual harassment

Team 10 sources upset over internal review

SAN DIEGO - Multiple anonymous sources tell Team 10 the senior assistant attorney general, who investigated sexual harassment claims against former mayor Bob Filner, was herself investigated for sexual harassment.

Julie Garland runs the attorney general's office in San Diego, and is a senior assistant attorney general. She was appointed by State Attorney General Kamala Harris.

During the high-profile Filner investigation, claims surfaced that Garland sexually harassed another woman -- one of the 70 attorneys working for her.  

From multiple sources inside the law enforcement community, Team 10 found out the details of what allegedly happened at a party last June.

The party was in the backyard of a large North County residence. It featured a live band and was attended by more than a hundred people -- many from the attorney general's office.

A keg of beer, wine and some tequila was available on an upper porch accessible by an outside stairway.

Several sources said Garland had been drinking, but not to excess. She had attended the event with her partner.

Sources said when she came come down the stairway late in the evening, Garland was walking behind her employee. A source said, "Julie slapped her hard on her rear end."

The sources said the employee kept on walking. Moments later, sources said, Garland caught up with the employee and asked, "Don't you react when someone grabs your butt?"

After the party ended, a source said one witness, who was offended by the behavior, immediately told her husband what she had seen.

The source said the witness would also tell this to an investigator from the attorney general's office.

The woman who had been slapped rode home from the party with several people, including two office supervisors, and told them what happened.

A source said one of those supervisors reported the incident the next morning to the attorney general's office in Sacramento.

Attorney General Kamala Harris' office eventually acted on the complaint, and sent fact-checker Celine Cooper to San Diego to investigate a "hostile work environment."

Sources told Team 10 on Dec. 11, Harris's Sacramento office determined there wasn't enough evidence against Garland and "the accusation was unsubstantiated."

Senior law enforcement sources were upset. They said, "the unsubstantiated finding is in conflict with the evidence."

Sources also said the attorney general's office "disrespected their own system," and, "they are calling their own lawyers essentially liars."

Garland refused to comment. (*Please see editor's note below.)

Team 10 has been talking to the attorney general's office since December about this story and waited to publish it until additional sources confirmed details from initial sources.

The attorney general's office told Team 10: "The allegations were thoroughly investigated by the department, and found to be unsubstantiated."

Multiple sources also said Garland is up for an internal promotion, and considered a rising star within the office.

Her boss, Harris, is considered a rising star in the Democratic party.

(Editor's note: Late Thursday afternoon, Garland issued a statement to Team 10. It is posted in its entirety below.)

I was involved in an investigation, which I welcomed, into an incident at a retirement party outside the office last year. Following that party, the other employee involved in the incident joked around about it at the office. Apparently, some supervisors overheard her joking and inquired whether the incident should be looked into as potential sexual harassment. The employee involved never made a sexual harassment complaint and I continue to have a good relationship with this employee. The DOJ thoroughly investigated the incident and, due to our department’s policy of confidentiality in all personnel matters, I unfortunately cannot speak to the outcome.  I take the DOJ’s non-discrimination and harassment policies very seriously, and I would never discriminate against or harass any of our employees.  In my 18-year career at the DOJ, I have never been accused of misconduct, sexual harassment, or discrimination of any kind.  It saddens and surprises me that 10News would run a story that could tarnish my career based on anonymous reports from people who are not privy to the full story.

For anyone who may think that DOJ mishandled this matter, I have attached DOJ’s sexual harassment policy for review.  I bring two significant points to your attention.  First, the policy states that if only a single incident is alleged, it must be very serious.  Second, it is also significant that the DOJ policy provides that “the impact of the offensive behavior on the offended person is the primary factor in determining if sexual harassment has occurred.”  Here, the person actually involved in the alleged contact did not make a complaint and instead joked about the incident to others, treating the contact as playful and a sign of our friendship.

Garland also provided us with the sexual harassment policy for the office. Read it here

(Editor's note: Garland's title was added after initial publication.)

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