San Francisco Chronicle
Alameda County probation chief hit with sex suit
Henry K. Lee
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The chief probation officer of Alameda County sexually assaulted and harassed one of his female deputies, according to a suit the deputy filed Tuesday that also outlines similar allegations lodged against him when he worked in Washington, D.C.
The woman, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, says David Muhammad’s bosses in Alameda County and Washington gave him a “pass” on previous sexual-harassment complaints because of his image as a successful Black man serving in a management position. The complaint said Muhammad has two sides to him, “a public one and a dark side.”
“Muhammad has apparently been protected for a long time because people wanted so much to hold him up as an example of a successful African American male who had overcome a difficult background,” said the suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
The suit seeks unspecified damages and names Muhammad and the county as defendants.
“What we hope to achieve with this suit is for Mr. Muhammad to stand up and take responsibility for his actions, to stop blaming the victim and to resign from his position as soon as possible,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Kelly Armstrong.
Muhammad, 38, whom the county hired in December 2010, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. He has previously denied any wrongdoing and said he would be exonerated.
Muhammad oversees a department that evaluates and supervises adult and juvenile offenders and provides updates to courts on their progress. He often makes public appearances, speaking on the need to help criminal offenders lead productive lives. He has spoken openly of his own troubles as a youth in Oakland, which he said included three arrests but no charges.
Muhammad has been on paid administrative leave since February, when the deputy probation officer filed a legal claim outlining her allegations. The probation department has been run by interim chiefs since then.
The deputy went on unpaid leave after filing her claim.
According to the woman’s suit, Muhammad touched her neck, joked that a small bruise there was a hickey and twice put his hands on her inappropriately at a probation office in Hayward on May 15, 2011.
The deputy said that four days later, Muhammad had her pick him up from Oakland International Airport and drive him to a speaking engagement in Oakland.
She reported that Muhammad instructed her to drive to the San Leandro Marina, then grabbed her and started kissing her, saying, “We would make some pretty babies.”
The suit said Muhammad contacted her numerous times, asking to see her.
According to the suit, Muhammad sexually harassed a female subordinate while working as chief of committed services at the Department of Youth Rehabilitating Services in Washington, D.C., in 2009.
No lawsuit has been filed against Muhammad in Washington, Armstrong said.