A prominent Sonoma County official was rehired by the county while he was the subject of an active state investigation into a sexual harassment complaint at his previous job, raising questions about the hiring process.
County officials say they did not know that Jim Leddy, a fixture in North Bay government and political circles for two decades, had been accused by a 29-year-old female subordinate of a wide range of inappropriate behavior during his brief tenure as Mono County administrator.
Leddy, who was hired in May to serve as a special projects director for Sonoma County’s Community Development Commission, declined to address the allegations of sexual harassment.
“It’s a personnel matter, and I’m not going to talk about it,” he said.
Neither the woman nor her attorney would comment on the allegations. In her complaint, the office manager claims Leddy engaged in harassing behavior soon after he arrived in Mono County on June 10, 2013. Before that, Leddy had worked in a number of governmental roles in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, most recently as a deputy county administrator.
Beginning that June and continuing for what the employee said was a year and a half, the woman reported that she was regularly subjected to lewd remarks and sexually charged propositions by Leddy. The interactions included trying to guess her bra size, telling her to come to his house when his wife was away, inviting her to take a bath with him and offering to send her a picture of his genitals, according to the complaint.
The woman’s claims could not be verified by The Press Democrat, which filed a public records request in December and obtained copies of the state complaint and the settlement agreement between the woman and Mono County. Her name was redacted from the documents and is being withheld by The Press Democrat.
Leddy’s departure from Mono County was a term of the settlement, which was reached June 2 between the woman and county officials, a week after his resignation became final. Leddy announced his resignation April 14, the same day the woman filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The complaint was withdrawn after the settlement was reached, ending the state investigation.
Leddy said the timing of his resignation had nothing to do with the complaint, but was the result of a decision made by him and his family the preceding autumn.
The sexual harassment allegations were first reported by The Sheet, a weekly newspaper in Mammoth Lakes. After the Nov. 27 news report about the allegations, the story quickly made the rounds among political insiders in Sonoma County, where Leddy was a Santa Rosa City Schools board member from 2001 to 2008. He ran for the state Assembly in 2004, and in 2008 became the county’s community and government affairs manager, a post that doubles as county spokesperson. By the time he left in 2013, he was a deputy county administrator.
Sonoma County officials said they learned of the events in Mono County only after reading the November report in The Sheet.
“Is that article concerning? Of course it is,” said Christina Cramer, Sonoma County’s human resources director.
But she said the county had no way of knowing about the allegations at the time of Leddy’s hiring, and a review determined proper procedures had been followed.
May: Deputy Sonoma County Administrator Jim Leddy takes job as Mono County administrator.
December: Female employee in Leddy’s office discusses sexual harassment allegations with Mono County counsel’s office.
January: Mono County supervisors get involved. Female employee placed on administrative leave.
January/February: Leddy applies for administrative job in Sonoma County, but does not get it.
March 2: Employee moved to Probation Department.
March 24: Employee interviewed by state investigator, claims harassment dating back to June 2013.
April 13: Sonoma County opens recruitment for special projects director position in Community Development Commission.
April 14: Leddy announces resignation, effective May 31. Employee files complaint of employment discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
April 16: Leddy applies for job at Community Development Commission.
April 17: Sonoma County closes recruitment for Community Development Commission position.
April 21: Sonoma County supervisors approve the new Community Development Commission position.
May 26: Leddy starts working at Community Development Commission.
June 2: Employee reaches settlement with Mono County.
July 9: Employee withdraws sexual harassment complaint; Department of Fair Employment and Housing closes investigation.