LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has authorized a $300,000 settlement for a prosecutor who says she was sexually harassed by her supervisor for more than 2 1/2 years.
Deputy District Attorney Karen Nishita, who complained about unwanted advances from prosecutor Edward Miller, will be paid from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office budget, the Orange County Register reported. No other details about the settlement were disclosed.
But a prosecutor who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation said the payment to Nishita does nothing to change the culture in the District Attorney’s Office. She alleges District Attorney Jackie Lacey has protected sexual harassers in the office and retaliated against victims and whistleblowers who speak out.
“It provides no consolation to anyone, except for Jackie Lacey and Edward Miller, because she gets to avoid having all of this damaging information come out and he gets to keep his job,” the prosecutor said. “Speaking out has consequences. It also reinforces the idea that this office, with women in leadership, is not interested in protecting women. Instead, the office is only interested in limiting its liability.”
District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jean Guccione has denied those allegations.
“No one in the District Attorney’s Office has been or will be punished for reporting improper workplace conduct,” she said Tuesday, when the supervisors approved Nishita’s settlement. “We are committed to conducting thorough administrative investigations into each of these reported incidents and will take the appropriate action to ensure that we maintain a safe and professional work environment at all times.”
However, a Southern California News Group review of emails, memos, lawsuits and confidential reports, as well as interviews with prosecutors, describe a troubling culture within the District Attorney’s Office.
Several deputy district attorneys, who asked not to be identified to avoid retaliation, claimed whistleblowers who file complaints often are denied promotions, banished to far-flung offices in what is known as “freeway therapy,” stripped of important cases or relegated to mundane, demoralizing duties.
They also complain that some prosecutors accused of sexual harassment have been allowed to keep their jobs or permitted to retire with hefty pensions.