By Ryan Carter Staff Writer
Created: 03/03/2011 09:49:52 PM PST
A San Bernardino Superior Court judge Thursday ruled for the county’s top prosecutor that a woman’s sexual harassment lawsuit against him lacked sufficient evidence to back her claims.
Judge Frank Gafkowski sustained objections from San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos, who argued that Cheryl Ristow’s lawsuit had no merit.
The action essentially means a final judgment in favor of Ramos will come shortly, Ramos’ attorney said Thursday.
“I endured these sensational charges, knowing that the court process would one day establish that they were completely false,” Ramos said in a statement. “That day of vindication has finally come.”
Ristow, a former investigative technician at the DA’s office, filed the lawsuit in August, alleging that she had an 18-month relationship with Ramos that included sex acts in his office, in his county- issued car and in Lake Arrowhead. The allegation also included assault-and-battery – an event she said happened in her office when he “grabbed and fondled” her without her consent.
When news of the affair came out, she alleged that Ramos and some of his employees retaliated against her.
That retaliation included reprimands for dress-code violations that contributed to a “hostile working environment” that “became too intolerable,” according to the lawsuit.
But such claims couldn’t be proved, Ramos’ attorney Richard Marca said, referring to the judge’s action on Thursday.
That action, however, was a surprise to Ristow and her attorneys – who said that on Wednesday the judge gave them another 20 days to amend their case.
“We’re pretty shocked and dismayed, because he issued a tentative ruling yesterday that would have allowed us to do a second amended complaint,” said Jim Reiss, Ristow’s attorney.
Gafkowski reversed his position in just one day, for no apparent reason, Reiss said.
“It’s pretty shocking in our business … because they want to make sure the plaintiff has their day in court,” he said.
Reiss voiced confidence that would happen, and he is reviewing whether to file a motion for reconsideration or to appeal.
Either way, he added, the judge’s ruling Thursday will be reviewed.
Ristow’s initial claim against the county last year sought
$1.5 million damages.
Ramos’ attorney said Thursday he did not know if Ramos would make any legal counterclaims against Ristow.
“To be fair, I don’t know … I think he’s more focused on taking care of his duties … and serving constituents first.”
In his statement, Ramos reiterated what he thought was behind the allegations – “an effort to dissuade me from moving forward with our corruption investigations.”
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