Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/27/2010 07:05:27 PM PST
Download: Investigation Report
A 183-page report released Wednesday clears Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos of alleged sexual harassment and workplace retaliation and paints his accuser as lacking credibility.
Cheryl Ristow, an investigative technician for the district attorney’s bureau of investigation, claims she had an affair with Ramos from September 2003 to February 2005.
In August, she filed a complaint with the county, claiming she was punished by supervisors after she was among several women named in a local weekly newspaper as having had trysts with Ramos.
A 6-month investigation by an outside law firm determined that Ristow’s allegations were unfounded, and a pattern of discipline meted out to her by her supervisors began well before the May 29 publication of the salacious newspaper article.
“Ultimately, the weight of the evidence compels a finding that there was no retaliation taken against Ristow,” the report states. “She has produced nothing, and we could not find anything despite extensive inquiry, to suggest that she was threatened to `keep quiet’ on pain of retribution by way of investigation and the threat of discipline.”
Ristow called the report “one sided,” clearly favorable to Ramos, and part of an agenda to portray her as imbalanced and out of control.
“This whole report has nothing to do with my relationship with Mike (Ramos). He (sexually) harassed me,” Ristow said. “There were quite a number of people interviewed who could corroborate my story and not one of them is mentioned in this report.”
Ramos has denied the allegations from the outset.
“I am gratified that the report reflects what I have said from the beginning: These allegations are untrue,” Ramos said in a statement. “Neither I nor any member of my office did anything inappropriate. Both personally and for my family, I am relieved that this matter is at an end.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the Board (of Supervisors) and our new (county administrative officer) in addressing the many issues that face public safety without any further such distractions to myself, my office and my staff.”
According to the report, Ristow had been disciplined for dress code violations and taking an extended lunch break on the afternoon of June 16, gambling for two hours at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino instead of going to the Sheriff’s Department to drop off a report as expected.
The same night, Ristow returned to the casino, had three glasses of wine and called Ramos on his cell phone complaining about the newspaper article, the potential repercussions and his inability to protect her from them. Ramos subsequently changed his cell phone number.
Investigators state in the report that Ristow specifically disavowed any intent to file a sexual harassment claim, repeatedly offered that the alleged affair was welcome and that she had “intensely positive, romantic feelings toward Ramos.”
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