Police Chief Is Called a Harasser

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A secretary has filed a $1-million claim against Irvine, accusing Police Chief Charles Brobeck of sexually harassing her and coercing her testimony in several personnel hearings and court proceedings.

Pamela J. Hopkins, 53, alleges in her legal filing that Brobeck made many inappropriate comments regarding her personal appearance, personal life and marital status.

"He put pressure on my client and didn't understand 'No,' ' said her attorney, Leo Terrell. "He was after her and wanted a relationship, but she didn't."

An attorney representing Brobeck and the city denies all the charges but said Irvine officials have launched an independent investigation into the allegations. Brobeck announced in November that he was planning to retire after nine years as Irvine's top cop.

Hopkins, of Rancho Santa Margarita, has worked for the city for 16 years, 12 of them with the Police Department.

She alleges that Brobeck, 61, told her not to say anything harmful against the department when she testified in various lawsuits and personnel hearings involving department employees. Terrell said she was briefed on how to testify and what to say.

Such testimony has caused her to be "ostracized on her job" and treated like a traitor by fellow employees, according to her claim, which was filed May 16.

Hopkins said she is suffering emotional distress and an undisclosed physical injury that required medical treatment.

Allegations Date From 1997

The claim states the harassment and coercion began in December 1997, but Hopkins did not file a complaint earlier because "she did not want to be involved in the stress of the complaint process" and jeopardize her job, her lawyer said.

Dan Spradlin, an Orange attorney who represents the city and Brobeck, denied any sexual harassment occurred or that Hopkins was coerced into making false statements on the stand.

"We take this complaint very seriously," Spradlin said. "Although we are concerned about the delay in [making] her complaint, we don't want to discourage anyone from reporting sexual harassment."

Brobeck has spent nearly four decades in law enforcement and won praise for Irvine's consistently low crime rate. In announcing his retirement, Brobeck said he and his wife intend to travel around the country.

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