Sonoma State president’s husband disputes sexual harassment claims that triggered settlement

The short statement from the husband of SSU President Judy Sakaki rejected allegations made public Wednesday of sexual harassment by McCallum affecting SSU employees.|

Patrick McCallum, the husband of Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki, late on Wednesday night issued a written statement in response to allegations reported by a former SSU provost that he sexually harassed several university employees.

“I deny any allegation that I engaged in any wrongful conduct toward anyone,” McCallum, a veteran Sacramento lobbyist, said in the statement.

The response came about six hours after The Press Democrat first published a story online detailing how the California State University system paid $600,000 in January to former provost Lisa Vollendorf to settle a complaint alleging she faced retaliation from Sakaki after reporting the employees’ complaints about McCallum to CSU administrators.

The Press Democrat had sought a response from McCallum before publishing its story online and immediately incorporated part of his response in that online story, as well as in the story published in print Thursday.

Sakaki, in a separate written statement Wednesday evening, said she was “surprised and saddened to learn of the allegations” against McCallum. She also rejected the claims by Vollendorf of retaliation, calling them “utterly without basis.”

Vollendorf declined to comment on Wednesday.

The $600,000 settlement, reached Jan. 13, was signed by Sakaki, McCallum, Vollendorf and an attorney for the CSU system.

McCallum, 68, heads up the McCallum Group, a legislative advocacy and government relations consultancy with a focus on higher education. He was previously executive director for the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

Here is his full statement:

“I am extremely proud of what Judy Sakaki has accomplished as President of Sonoma State University in changing the culture, redirecting resources to students and faculty and proposing and supporting new pedagogical strategies that now make Sonoma State University one of the best CSU campuses for student success. I am also proud of my service as a Sonoma State volunteer and enjoy assisting Judy as a champion for the campus. The faculty, students, staff and campus supporters have been wonderful to us both, especially after we suffered the loss of our home and nearly our lives during the fires. I deny any allegation that I engaged in any wrongful conduct toward anyone. We look forward to our mutual focus of making Sonoma State University the best campus in the CSU system with exceptional academic outcomes for students, their families and the community as a whole.”

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