10:00 PM PST on Friday, January 29, 2010

By CASSIE MACDUFF
The Press-Enterprise

Anybody who expected San Bernardino County to investigate allegations that District Attorney Mike Ramos had affairs with several women who work for him must be disappointed.

A report released this week reads like an investigation of the woman who went public about her alleged affair, not of the DA.

If any other women were thinking of coming forward, they surely won’t after seeing the outcome for Cheryl Ristow, 50, of Redlands.

County spokesman David Wert said there’s no policy against department heads having affairs with people who work for them, so the county wasn’t obligated to look into alleged affairs.

The law firm that conducted the review said its purpose was to determine only whether Ristow’s supervisors retaliated against her.

Ristow has been a technician in the DA’s Bureau of Investigation since 2002.

She came forward last summer after a weekly publication outed her and eight other women it claimed had had affairs with Ramos.

Ristow met with Supervisor Neil Derry to say her supervisors were targeting her for discipline over previously acceptable conduct.

Ramos has denied having inappropriate relationships. In a prepared statement, he said, “Neither I nor any member of my office did anything inappropriate.”

I read the report and came to a different conclusion.

Particularly disturbing was how a supervisor reacted the day Ristow came into the office with a tattoo showing. He sent her home to change clothes, then wrote her up and made her sign the memo.

Yet he admitted a male employee regularly forgot to cover his tattoo and the supervisor simply reminded him to cover it up.

Why was Ristow written up while the male employee was not? The investigators questioned the supervisor pretty closely about that but decided his explanation that Ristow was “flaunting” her tattoo was credible. Huh?

A supervisor also started asking Ristow’s coworkers whether they had issues with her. The DA’s human resource officer asked the supervisor, “You sure we’re not piling on here?”

To me, that signals they knew they were piling on. But Ramos’ lawyer Richard Marca, who has conducted similar investigations, said such a question is routine.

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