The ex-captain at High Desert State Prison has pleaded no contest to harassment and assault charges for inappropriately touching a female colleague while still on the job.
Christopher Lewis, who used to be a captain at the Northern California prison, has been placed on 2 years’ probation under his plea agreement in Lassen County Superior Court. He is also required to pay $1,006 in fines.
The court has given Lewis “time-served” credit for the 1 day he spent in jail in 2018.
When asked for more details, Lewis’ attorney said his client doesn’t want to give an interview because “he is ready to move on with his life.”
However, it doesn’t look like Lewis will be able to move on as swiftly as he is hoping. The sexual harassment allegations are continuing to shadow Lewis as well as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The woman who filed the harassment charges against Lewis and his former employer has a pending civil case in the Sacramento County Superior Court.
Female Colleague Was Subjected to Hostile Behavior When Complained About Harassment
The victim, who worked as an office technician at the NorCal prison, sued Lewis in November 2018. She claimed that the ex-captain routinely subjected her to inappropriate comments and unwelcome hugs.
According to the court documents, she also alleged that Lewis tried to grope her, kiss her, and forcefully pulled her into his lap.
The documents also note that when she filed a formal complaint against Lewis, her superiors turned hostile and she had to reduce her hours. When she tried to get her hours back, the prison superiors gave her “nasty looks” and acted in an antagonistic way. She was also passed up for promotion.
The woman also mentioned in her statement that the prison officials also wrongfully berated her husband – who works at the same prison – for issues that absolutely did not involve him. This all happened once she lodged a formal complaint and spoke out about her harassment.
It is interesting to note that the prison’s attorneys are denying the allegations and refusing to comment on the pending litigation. Lewis resigned in October 2019.
John Winer, who is representing the woman, said that Lewis should have received stricter punishment. Being forced to resign was just like a slap on the wrist, he said.
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Has Paid Over $15 Million in Settlement Until Now
The allegations against Lewis came after a 2018 investigation disclosed that the prison has paid out over $15 million over 3 years to quietly settle the abuse and sexual harassment allegations.
And this is not the first time the High Desert Prison has been in headlines for a sexual harassment case. The 2018 investigation also highlighted another case where a women claimed her supervisor tried to force himself on her numerous times.
Diana Bernhardt was working as an office assistant at the Susanville Prison when one of her male supervisors subjected her to several unwanted advances. According to Bernhardt, this man once pulled down his trousers to expose his bare backside and bragged about “last night’s sexual encounter and he had marks to prove it”. He also grabbed another female colleague’s breast one time.
The Department have her $310,000 to settle the case.
Even One Instance of Sexual Harassment is Too Many – Talk to an Experienced Sexual Harassment Attorney in California.
If you are getting harassed or abused by your colleague, superior, landlord, or someone else, it’s time to put a stop to it. The experienced sexual harassment lawyers at Makarem & Associates can make sure the responsible party pays for the emotional and physical damage they have done to you. This blog is based on a criminal case and although Makarem & Associates handles only civil cases, it does not stray away from the importance of sexual harassment topics.