Sheriff's Name Dropped From Harassment Suits

Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates has been dropped as a defendant in three sexual harassment lawsuits, including one that alleges he made female subordinates recruit big-breasted women for a charity golf tournament.

The lawsuits, filed in June and July by three female employees of the department, are aimed primarily at former Assistant Sheriff Dennis LaDucer, whom Gates fired Aug. 13 after an internal investigation into the charges.

The women had also named Gates in their suits, accusing him of contributing to a work environment hostile toward its female employees. Gates has denied ever knowing about, or condoning, such behavior.

Assistant Sheriff Douglas Storm was named in one of the lawsuits as well, but also has been removed as a defendant, said attorney Patrick Thistle, who represents the women. Thistle said the county remains a defendant in all three suits.

LaDucer is the only person named in a fourth lawsuit filed last month accusing him of rape. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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