California emergency services officer sued for sexual harassment, retaliation


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses a deputy director of California The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services alleged sexual harassment and retaliation against a senior staffer, even though the agency did nothing to stop it.

The lawsuit argues that Ryan Buras, appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, harassed Kendra Boyer for a year starting in 2020, despite the agency having knowledge of similar previous allegations made by other female employees. Newsom named Buras in 2019 as deputy director of recovery operations, a role that includes wildfire and other disaster response. Boyer was a senior emergency services coordinator.

“This administration perpetrated a predatory campaign of sexual and psychological abuse,” Boyer said in a statement released by her lawyers. “A workplace that is focused on supporting disaster survivors has become a terrifying and nightmarish disaster zone in itself because they enabled his abhorrent behavior.”

An email seeking comment from Buras was not immediately returned.

Buras’ alleged harassment included crawling into bed with Boyer while she was sleeping during a gathering at her home, “touching her without consent, attempting to get her alone in a hotel room, holding her hand in public, touching her almost every night.” “There was a lot of calling and texting and a lot more involved.” According to a release from his attorney.

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According to the lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, “Bowyer believed that her career would be over as soon as she asked Buras to stop her advances, so she tried to use the most polite way possible to stop his behavior.” tried.”

But ultimately, after rejecting his advances, Bowyer faced retaliation from Buras that included restricting her access to the resources she needed to do her job, the lawsuit argues.

According to the lawsuit, her alleged behavior prevented Boyer from providing essential services to disaster survivors and caused her so much stress, anxiety and depression that in 2021 a doctor determined she was “totally disabled.” Was.

The lawsuit says that when Cal OES launched an investigation, Boyer received a letter later that year saying Buras had not acted inappropriately.

“This guy is untouchable,” Boyer told The Associated Press in an interview.

In an emailed statement, Cal OES said it hired an outside law firm to investigate the harassment allegations and took appropriate action after the investigation determined “no policies were violated.”

No other details were given in the statement.

The agency had earlier said in a statement that “sexual harassment in the workplace is an affront to our values ​​as an organization. This has no place at Cal OES and will not be tolerated in any form.” ___ Austin is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. report for usa is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: @sophieadanna

Copyright 2024 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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