Sexual harassment lawsuit filed against County, former asst. sheriff

Assistant Sheriff Rich Miller recently retired

A lawsuit has been filed against the County of San Diego and the former Assistant Sheriff for sexual harassment and retaliation.

The employee began working for the Sheriff’s Department in 2010 at the Vista Detention Facility, according to the lawsuit.

Team 10 is not naming her because she said she is a victim of sexual harassment. The woman worked as Administration Secretary for the Detention Services Bureau at the Sheriff’s Headquarters.

She alleges in her lawsuit that on at least five separate occasions, “Miller inappropriate hugged [her] and thrusted his crotch area into her so that she would feel his penis against her.”

She said the first three times she was hugged in an inappropriate manner was when he was a Commander.

RELATED: San Diego County Assistant Sheriff accused of 'inappropriate conduct' 

The two most recent times were after he was promoted to Assistant Sheriff. The female employee claimed that Miller made “inappropriate sexual innuendo” to her, including tickling her hand.

She stated in her lawsuit that she confided in two Commanders about Miller’s behavior, but did not raise a formal complaint because she feared retaliation.

She applied for a new job within the department with Law Enforcement Services Bureau Administrative Secretary II “in order to avoid Defendant Miller and his continued harassment.”

She was not granted the transfer. She alleged “Miller demoted her in retaliation for her rejection of his sexual advances and efforts to avoid further harassment by him.”

Team 10 contacted the Sheriff’s Department late Monday. A spokesperson said Miller is no longer with the department, since he retired.

She added they cannot comment on pending lawsuits. Team 10 is still waiting to hear back from a county spokesperson.

The woman suing the County of San Diego and Miller also believed that “the county had received and/or was aware of several complaints from other employees about inappropriate sexual behavior of the Assistant Sheriff.”

The lawsuit stated the county took no appropriate action to protect from Miller’s harassment.Team 10 previously contacted Miller when these allegations first arose in February.

He told Team 10 investigator Melissa Mecija he could not comment on an ongoing investigation. He also said he “absolutely” denied allegations of inappropriate conduct.

In late February, before the lawsuit was filed, a sheriff's spokesperson told Team 10: "Despite the allegations in the claim, the claimant was not demoted. The claimant was assigned to another Sheriff's Department facility, prior to raising a formal complaint, and currently receives the same pay and benefits as she did in her prior assignment."

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