Fifth Lawsuit Names LaDucer, Other Officers

A fifth lawsuit alleging that former assistant Orange County Sheriff Dennis LaDucer sexually harassed a female subordinate was filed Friday, and for the first time, it also accused other sheriff's officers and employees of harassment.

Amy L. Maisenbach, 24, an accountant in the community programs office, quit in July 1997 after enduring constant sexual harassment from six men during the three years she worked there, according to a complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court.

The highest ranking officer was LaDucer, who was fired last summer by Sheriff Brad Gates after four women filed lawsuits accusing him of making inappropriate sexual comments or groping them. LaDucer, 53, a 31-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, has repeatedly denied the allegations. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Patrick J. Thistle, Maisenbach's attorney, said his client "went out of her way to make complaints about what she perceived to be harassment, [but the] management of the department was simply unresponsive."

Maisenbach's experience "is a disgrace," Thistle said, and it suggests that "LaDucer was not the only problem in that department. It seems to run from top to bottom that sexual harassment is the order of the day."

Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Garner said he had not seen the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.

According to the lawsuit, LaDucer stopped at Maisenbach's desk every day, compelled her to have lunch with him, directed her to run personal errands for him and badgered her about her relationship with her boyfriend.

LaDucer "loitered around [her and] attempted to engage [Maisenbach] in sexually suggestive discussions which included . . . descriptions of the male and female anatomy [and] sexually explicit details of movie actresses' bodies [and] his own anatomy," according to the complaint.

When Maisenbach objected, LaDucer "threw items at [her] and [her desk]," the suit alleges, and she "felt fear for her personal safety."

The suit also names five other defendants in the department.

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