A Mission Viejo man filed a $15-million legal claim this week against Orange County, alleging that his now-estranged wife was sexually harassed by Sheriff Michael S. Carona.
It is the second accusation of sexual harassment against Carona in two weeks, but the sheriff denies it all. In both cases, the accusations involve a woman related to former Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo, who was fired last year and now faces bribery charges.
Jennifer Keller, an attorney from Irvine who was recently hired by the sheriff, described Carona as a “great law enforcement officer with a spotless record” who has become the victim of a “ridiculously transparent conspiracy” by Jaramillo -- once one of the sheriff’s closest allies.
Keller said the sheriff forwarded the harassment allegations to the state attorney general’s office Sept. 12 and that he is “very confident that when this is concluded he’s going to be absolutely cleared of any wrongdoing.”
The legal claim was filed by Dean Holloway, who contends he first reported more than a year ago to the Sheriff’s Department that Carona had harassed his wife but that investigators ignored him. Keller denied this, saying Holloway was uncooperative after making the allegation.
Holloway, 39, a computer technician, is under house arrest on grand-theft charges and twice was the subject of restraining orders filed by former girlfriends in the 1990s. He blames Carona in part for his failing marriage. His wife now lives in Chicago with their child.
Susan Holloway, 31, declined to speak Wednesday about the events but said she stands by a written statement she signed May 19 in which she detailed how Carona asked her out for cocktails and on another occasion invited her to spend the weekend with him in San Francisco.
When her husband first complained about the sheriff, Susan Holloway denied that anything had taken place. In her written statement, though, she contended that her attorney, at Carona’s urging, coerced her into denying the claims.
Regardless, Assistant Sheriff Jo Ann Galisky said the department takes any complaint filed against a member of the department seriously and that the matter would be investigated.
In her written statement, Holloway said she met Carona in April 2001 when she went to sheriff’s headquarters to meet Jaramillo for lunch. She was single at the time. She said Carona called to ask her out for drinks in July 2001 but that she didn’t return his call.
In April 2002, while Carona and Jaramillo were in Washington, Jaramillo called the Holloways’ home in Aliso Viejo, according to the statement. Carona then asked to speak to Susan and suggested that she go to San Francisco with him. By then, according to the statement, the Holloways were married and she had given birth to their child a week earlier.
“Again, I just played it off and wanted to be nice because he was my cousin’s boss,” she wrote. “I never invited the calls from Mike Carona and had no intention of calling him back.”
In August 2002, sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of a domestic dispute between the Holloways. According to a copy of the sheriff’s report on the incident provided by Dean Holloway, Susan Holloway was identified as the assailant, who scratched her husband and was suspected of spousal battery.
Dean Holloway later accused Jaramillo of interfering in the domestic dispute incident to protect his cousin.
Dean Holloway said he sent a written complaint to the Sheriff’s Department last year about Carona’s phone call to his wife.
Keller said Wednesday that the sheriff sent the case last year to the district attorney’s office, which concluded that the sheriff could investigate the incident.
Times staff writer Jean O. Pasco contributed to this report.