San Diego

Claim Against SDSO Assistant Sheriff Alleges Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

A claim filed against the county obtained by NBC 7 Thursday details allegations of sexual harassment by a top-level official with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO).

The department confirmed Tuesday it was investigating a complaint of inappropriate conduct against Assistant Sheriff Rich Miller.

The claim alleges Miller sexually harassed a female coworker and retaliated against her in the form of a demotion for denying his sexual advances.

According to the claim, the alleged harassment spanned five years and led the victim to seek medical treatment and counseling from a therapist as a result.

The victim claims that on at least five occasions while she was employed as an Administrative Secretary with the Detention Services Bureau, Miller inappropriately hugged her and thrust himself on her in a sexually suggestive way. She also said in the claim that Miller only hugged her in that manner when the two were alone.

Three of the alleged interactions happened while Miller was a Commander and the most-recent two occurred after he was promoted to Assistant Sheriff in 2014, according to the claim.

The claim states that in addition to sexually assaulting the victim, Miller also made inappropriate sexual innuendos in her direction, touched her inappropriately and was caught "leering" at her as she worked out in a facility gym.

"Miller's inappropriate touchings and comments were so pervasive that [the victim] was afraid to work past 5 p.m. because she gravely feared to be alone with Miller," the claim reads in part.

According to the claim, the victim confided in another Commander about Miller's behavior but didn't file a formal complaint out of fear of retaliation.

Instead, the victim looked for other employment opportunities within the department in an effort to avoid further harassment.

The claim alleges that after Miller learned the victim applied for another position in 2017, he transferred her to work as an Administrative Secretary II at the South Bay Detention Facility, a position viewed by the victim as a demotion.

According to the claim, the victim was interviewed by Internal Affairs about Miller's behavior about three months after the transfer.

The claim also alleges the county received multiple complaints of inappropriate behavior by Miller and failed to protect its employees from his harassment.

According to SDSO Media Relations Director Lt. Karen Stubkjaer, a review of Miller's disciplinary records shows that he has no record of any discipline being imposed against him ever in his career.

Lt. Stubkjaer also said that, other than the current investigation, the department has no record of any internal investigations against Miller within the past five years.

NBC 7 has confirmed with the department that Miller is using accumulated leave time until his retirement begins on March 2.

As an assistant sheriff -- one of three on the department's executive staff -- Miller ran the Sheriff's Detention Services Bureau, which oversees the seven county jails.

Miller joined the department in 1992 and was appointed to Assistant Sheriff by Sheriff Bill Gore in 2014, according to Miller's bio on the SDSO website.

He receives an annual salary of $317,000 in total pay and benefits according to Transparent California, a group that tracks public employee salaries.

NBC 7 has reached out to Miller and his attorneys for comment and has received no response.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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