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— "You leave with the understanding that the allegation of sexual harassment, which has not been proven, is to remain confidential as part of your employment file. The reason for maintaining confidentiality is self-evident. If such an allegation becomes public, the mere accusation even without proof would be an irremovable stain upon your reputation. Damage to your personal life and career would be assured."

The filing continued, "Instead of focusing on the facts relevant to its claims, Plaintiff has pled, for the public to view, allegations that are solely intended to embarrass, humiliate and intimidate Defendants into quickly settling the action." (Through his lawyer, DeBello declined comment.)

But what happened to Steve Peace, DeBello's longtime friend, coproducer, and Four Square partner? The August 2004 services agreement between Four Square and DeBello was signed on behalf of the company by three individuals: Arturo Castanares, Peace's top legislative aide during his time in the state senate; Robert Matzenauer; and G. Gordon Browning, Peace's stepfather.

Reached by phone last week, ex-Peace aide Castanares, who owns Cornerstone Strategies, a political consulting and lobbying firm, said that he represents his parents, whom he said bought out Peace's interest in Four Square sometime in 2002 while Peace was still in the legislature. In 2004, Castanares said, his parents purchased DeBello's stake as part of the services agreement now at issue. Then in 2006, Castanares said, his parents bought the remaining balance of the firm from Peace's relatives. According to County records, on March 26 of this year Peace, his wife Cheryl, Browning, and Matzenauer jointly sold the building adjacent to Montgomery Field that had been Four Square's headquarters for $4.8 million.

"The business is changing," Castanares said. "We are moving to National City, and we aren't going to do video work anymore. You can't compete with guys who can do that kind of thing on a computer in the living room." He declined to comment on any aspect of the pending lawsuit.

But court records suggest that Castanares does not have the best relationship with his lawyer, Nadia Bermudez. On July 17, according to the documents, Bermudez notified Castanares that she was asking the court to let her quit the case because her client was not returning phone calls and had "breached an agreement" regarding "attorney's expenses or fees." The court will consider that request on August 17, the same day it will consider a motion by DeBello's lawyer for summary judgment. If successful, the motion would decide the case in DeBello's favor without a trial. A motion by Bermudez to postpone that hearing for 90 days was denied on July 26. The trial is currently scheduled for September.

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