San Diegans woke up yesterday to news that County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher would resign following a lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted and harassed a former MTS staffer, but it was clear early in the day that the region was still grappling with the implications of the allegations against him.
Most significantly, a second accuser came forward. NBC 7 San Diego reported that a former UC San Diego student who interned in 2015 for a nonprofit Fletcher founded has accused him of improper behavior.
The station called her Amanda, withholding her last name, and said she was 19 when she worked for Three Wise Men Foundation, the veteran-focused nonprofit he founded.
She told NBC that Fletcher told her she was hot and touched her buttocks while they were posing for a photo during a company trip to Minnesota, and that he sent her explicit text messages and asked her for a massage.
She said she reported the incident to her supervisor, and to UCSD’s sexual assault center.
The station published an email exchange that shows she reported the incident at the time. In the exchange, the intern’s supervisor, Kaylee Wilson, tells Fletcher that Amanda accused Fletcher of making her feel uncomfortable. Wilson wrote that she didn’t believe the allegation but it was worrisome. Fletcher responds that during the trip he encouraged her to pursue men her age at the event.
“Obviously, let’s not have her intern at 3WM anymore,” Fletcher wrote, according to the emails obtained by NBC.
Fletcher said in a statement to NBC that the accusation is false and that the emails support him.
“This is just piling onto an existing media frenzy,” he said.
About Fletcher’s teaching gig: Fletcher has taught a rotating series of classes in UCSD’s political science department for a decade.
The university issued a statement Thursday that Fletcher is “not currently teaching at UC San Diego.” In that statement, the university wrote it takes allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence seriously. “The health, well-being and safety of our campus community members is our top priority.”
SDPD Says There’s No Criminal Case
The accusations in former MTS employee Grecia Figueroa’s civil suit, which Fletcher has denied, nonetheless appear to constitute a crime.
Investigating the allegations criminally would fall to the San Diego Police Department, since the events described occurred in the city.
“SDPD does not have a case at this time,” SDPD Lt. Adam Sharki said, when asked if the department was investigating the allegations.
“It would be the purview of SDPD to investigate and then refer to our office for potential prosecution,” said District Attorney Spokesman Steve Walker. “I’d recommend checking with them.”
The city attorney’s office declined to comment.
MTS Responds to Figueroa’s Firing, and its Internal Investigation
Regardless of Fletcher’s resignation, Figueroa’s complaint includes multiple issues of lasting significance for the Metropolitan Transit System and its executives.
For one, she claims she was fired the same day Fletcher launched his aborted state Senate campaign, and speculates that it was because of her relationship with the agency’s former board chair, before he stepped down from that position yesterday.
MTS issued a press release Thursday arguing she was fired solely due to “ongoing performance concerns” and was consistent with their policy of trying to address them over a long period.
- “None of the decision makers involved in this personnel decision were aware of the allegations about Nathan Fletcher until after the decision to terminate Ms. Figueroa’s employment was communicated to her,” the agency’s general counsel, Karen Landers, wrote.
But wait: No one was aware of the allegations, Landers wrote. But Fletcher has a different story, that he and Figueroa had a consensual affair. Were any of the decision makers aware of the affair, ahead of the decision to fire her? And who were the decision makers, anyway?
- “Neither Mr. Fletcher nor any other MTS Board Member was aware of or involved in the decision to terminate Ms. Figueroa,” Landers wrote.
But wait: How can they state, unequivocally, what Fletcher was aware of? They’re certain that no one involved communicated anything about the situation to Fletcher?
- “The filing of Ms. Figueroa’s lawsuit on March 28, 2023 was the first time that MTS executive management was provided with the specific details of Ms. Figueroa’s allegations,” Landers wrote.
But wait: This, again, only claims that the agency learned of Figueroa’s allegations on Sunday, while saying nothing about the affair, or encounters, that Fletcher contends occurred. Were agency executives aware that the board chair said he had an affair with Figueroa?
MTS said yesterday it had launched its own investigation into the allegation, but provided virtually no details of it. We wanted to know who was conducting the investigation, how they were selected, what their purview would be, and what their existing relationship with the agency was.
Landers said the law firm Paul Plevin Quarles, which handles the agency’s labor and employment concerns, would conduct the probe. There’s no budget for the investigation, Landers wrote, though MTS’s existing contract with the firm outlines its hourly rates.
“Since this matter proceeded directly to litigation, the investigation will take place as part of MTS’s response to that lawsuit,” she wrote. The investigation would help determine liability, if any, related to the case, as well as the damages that might apply.
The investigation is, in other words, part of MTS’s legal strategy as a named defendant in the lawsuit.
Fletcher Is Not Going Anywhere for a While
In his resignation announcement, Fletcher said he’d remain a board member until he completed his treatment, but did not say when that would be. A spokesman in his office, James Canning, issued a statement Thursday morning clarifying that.
Fletcher’s official day of resignation will not be until May 15.
Neither Canning nor Fletcher explained why he would remain in his position for the next 46 days.
When the coal runs out, he will have collected an extra roughly $25,000 during that time.
In Other News
- KPBS profiled a deported artist in Tijuana. The artist uses his own deportation story to change the narrative around deportation and deportees.
- Here’s how much it rained in San Diego. (Union-Tribune)
- The U-T also pulled together a guide for those looking for watch parties this weekend as San Diego State’s men’s basketball team goes up against Florida Atlantic University in the Final Four.
The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Jakob McWhinney. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.
It would be nice to see these “but wait” retorts in news stories people care about like “the homeless” but that doesn’t jive with your politics so we won’t be so lucky.
Sorry to refute you, but I care about the majority of VOSD articles. And homelessness has been a recurrent theme in their reporting.
The Power and control of some elected officials.
Coming soon: Accountability?
I’m guessing that Fletcher’s decision to resign on May 15th has more to do with his heath insurance coverage than his pay. As VOSD has noted he will earn about $25,000 during that time.
The bill for his in house rehab stint could easily exceed $several hundred thousand. Fletcher could do the right thing and resign now, instead he will continue to milk the system right up to the very end.
Given the timing, one wonders if the “rehab stint” is primarily to address alcohol abuse and PTSD or to keep Fletcher as far away from the $*!t-show and reporters for as long as possible. Either way, as you point out, it’s all on the taxpayers’ dime because he won’t resign for another six weeks.
10,000 years of a woman’s allure and this small appraisal. Years ago, when I was a naive young man, I was having my teeth cleaned by a beautiful lady 10 years my senior. She kept touching me in places that were private and then I asked her if she was married, and she said yes to a Navy pilot. Then she said, “I asked for a divorce.” I asked why would you divorce a seemly nice Navy pilot, and she said, “Because he will not touch me.” Moral of the story, maybe we are a nation of hypocrites at least to some extent.
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