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City Council approves $1.8-million payout to LAPD officer who accused her boss of sexual harassment

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 10/10/2018 James Queally
a group of people in uniform © Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles police officer who accused an internal affairs lieutenant of sexual harassment and ordering surveillance of her when she rejected his advances will receive a $1.8-million payout from the city.

The City Council affirmed the payment for Officer Linda Allstot on Wednesday, ending a legal battle that began in 2015, court records show.

Allstot had accused Lt. Wayne Lightfoot of making unwanted sexual advances, inappropriately touching her and making disparaging remarks about the appearance of other women repeatedly while he was her supervisor in the LAPD’s Professional Standards Bureau from 2013 to 2015, according to her civil lawsuit.

Lightfoot also allegedly invited Allstot on vacations to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and Lake Havasu, Ariz. During those conversations "his eyes traveled up and down from [Allstot's] face to her breasts," according to the lawsuit. He also "looked up and down her body in a sexual manner" when they passed each other in hallways or spoke in his office.

Allstot also accused Lightfoot and others of retaliating against her by making false complaints about her job performance. The lieutenant also had other officers follow her to try and obtain evidence of wrongdoing, the lawsuit claimed.

Allstot eventually filed a complaint with Deputy Chief Debbie McCarthy, but nothing was done, the lawsuit said.

Earlier this year, a jury awarded Allstot $3 million in damages. But the city filed a motion in June seeking a reduction, and a judge ordered Allstot to either accept the reduced figure or endure a second trial on the issue of compensation, Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said Wednesday.

In reducing the payout, Judge Richard L. Fruin Jr. ruled that Allstot would not suffer “any future pain and suffering,” said Greg Smith, an attorney representing Allstot. None of the officers Allstot made complaints against faced internal discipline, Smith said.

Lightfoot retired earlier this year and was enrolled in the city’s controversial retirement program that pays police officers and firefighters their salaries and pensions simultaneously during the last five years of their careers, even if they are not on active duty. The Deferred Retirement Option Program, also known as DROP, allowed Lightfoot to collect an additional $423,154 in pension checks when he left the department in February, according to data provided by the Los Angeles Fire and Police pension fund. Lightfoot also collected $102,000 in sick time while in DROP, records show.

An employee’s service or attendance record have no bearing on their enrollment in DROP, so Allstot’s allegations of harassment and misconduct against Lightfoot could not have prevented him from profiting from the DROP program. City officials have said they are reviewing the program after a Los Angeles Times investigation found police officers and firefighters might have been abusing the system by taking time off for cumulative injuries after entering DROP, which allows participants to file workers’ compensation claims and then take extended injury leaves at nearly twice their usual pay.

Allstot, a 20-year-veteran of the department, remains on duty within Internal Affairs, Smith said. Lightfoot could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

In a statement, the LAPD said it was disappointed with the verdict earlier this year but insisted the agency has a “zero tolerance” policy for harassment.

“The [department] requires that every employee complete annual training on sexual harassment in the workplace and the [department] provides employees a variety of ways to report any sexual harassment,” the statement read. “When any such conduct is reported, it is taken seriously and is investigated by Internal Affairs.”

A department spokesman said he could not comment on any internal disciplinary charges brought against Lightfoot and or other officers, citing state privacy laws protecting police personnel records.

Times staff writers Jack Dolan and Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

UPDATES:

4:15 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the LAPD and information about Lightfoot's enrollment in the city's DROP program.

This article was first published at 1:20 p.m.

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