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Kimberli Hirst, a phlebotomist working for a private company, has been awarded $1.125 million as as result of being the victim of sexual harassment by Oceanside police officer Gilbert Garcia, who was later fired by the city.

Hirst was doing her work when Garcia said, "You have a nice ass." He went on to make remarks using crude language for such acts as sexual intercourse and fellatio.

She won at the Superior Court level. Oceanside appealed on several grounds, but the heart of the case was that both the lower court and appellate court ruled that she was a person providing services services pursuant to a contract, and she could sue under the Fair Employment & Housing Act.

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Comments

Visduh May 10, 2015 @ 8:39 p.m.

Nothing to see here folks, just move along. That OPD gets sued constantly, and the city pays out huge awards for the stupidest things, almost all of which were easily avoidable if anyone had been in charge. This is just the latest one to cost in the millions. There's only one thing that Oceanside can do to stop this, and that is to shut down the PD. That's a step that could and should have been taken years ago. They'd have to contract with the sheriff for law enforcement, a sort of choice no city should have to make, because many other No County cities would love to find an alternative to the sheriff. But getting rid of their utterly screwed-up and dysfunctional PD would still be the best choice for Oceanside. But it will never happen, because Oceanside does things the "Oceanside way", which makes no sense at all to outsiders, and many residents.

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Don Bauder May 10, 2015 @ 9:40 p.m.

Visduh: The language the cop used was extremely gross. Didn't Oceanside cops take classes in sexuall harassment? If not, why not? Your assessment might be right on the money. Best, Don Bauder

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AlexClarke May 11, 2015 @ 6:35 a.m.

Apparently Garcia missed it. Top management of any police department sets the tone. It looks like the management of the OPD needs to be evaluated and held accountable.

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Don Bauder May 11, 2015 @ 12:37 p.m.

AlexClarke: Top management is responsible for everything that goes on within an organization -- business, labor union, school, trade association, etc. That doesn't mean top management should be fired every time there is an incident like this.

Mistakes -- sometimes egregious ones like this -- will be made, and the best top managers may not be able to prevent them. But if a whole series of things go sour within an organization, it is time to consider dumping top management. Examples: the California Public Utilities Commission and Southern California Edison. Best. Don Bauder

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AlexClarke May 12, 2015 @ 6:16 a.m.

Don I agree. It appears that OPD has a history of incidents and this is not just a one off.

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Don Bauder May 12, 2015 @ 6:37 a.m.

AlexClarke: Visduh has the insight on the OPD's history. Best, Don Bauder

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rehftmann May 11, 2015 @ 10:37 a.m.

Was he wearing a cop-cam or was this another he said/she said? Please excuse me if I'm jaded about stories so short on facts, so long on presumptions, but mayors, presidents, and anyone else who can be linked to the deep pockets of the public treasury routinely get trashed for the benefit of the popular press and legal systems' leveraging puritanical, prurient, and powerful cleansing moral force.

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dwbat May 11, 2015 @ 10:43 a.m.

Sexual harassment is a crime, not simply a phenomenon based on the legal systems' puritanical behavior. It's the same with hate crimes; they must be dealt with via criminal/civil court cases. That's our legal system, like it or not.

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Don Bauder May 11, 2015 @ 12:41 p.m.

dwbat: This case is not simply about sexual harassment. It is about basic decency. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 11, 2015 @ 12:39 p.m.

rehftmann: The appellate court decision goes into more detail. It is a public document. Best, Don Bauder

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rehftmann May 11, 2015 @ 4:40 p.m.

Perhaps Visduh has some insight into this. I don't have access to court documents so between the assumptions of the article and his low opinion of Oceanside's municipal government, we can play this the same way attorneys who specialize in this sort of business would: a government entity (Not Our Money) that settles/loses, a cop (bonus since he's a minority), and a low-pay independent plaintiff with an FEPC beef. Bingo! Our legal system has some massively off-balance priorities and powers, like it or not.

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Don Bauder May 11, 2015 @ 8 p.m.

rehftmann: Personally, I believe the amount was too high, maybe far too high. But it was definitely sexual harassment of the crudest kind. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh May 11, 2015 @ 8:24 p.m.

If living here in No County in the next-city-over from Oceanside hasn't provided some insight, nobody has much insight. For as long as I've lived here, and including a couple short stints working in Oceanside, the endless impression is that the city is short a few cards from a full deck. Some of the mess is a result of the massive takeover and militarization of Camp Pendleton during WWII. But the city has had plenty of time to recover from that, and channel its efforts into something productive. In the past 25-or-so years, a series of lawsuits from within and without the PD have been settled at huge expense. It just never stops. The city cannot seem able to find an effective city manager, nor a really strong cop to run its PD. And on it goes. This isn't the first such lawsuit of this sort, and it surely won't be the last. Other cities here in No County manage to avoid such claims and huge settlements. What a difference a few miles makes!

True, that our legal system has some strange priorities, but don't blame a screwy court system for this outrage. The blame is closer to home.

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Don Bauder May 11, 2015 @ 9:14 p.m.

Visduh: I tend to agree with you on this one. The blame lies with Oceanside and its police department. Wasn't there sexual harassment training? Best, Don Bauder

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rehftmann May 12, 2015 @ 10:55 a.m.

It does sound like Oceanside has been recognized as an easy mark. My point is that this is a societal problem, driven by what appears to be good intentions and protected by mass psychological phenomena. The READER story playing concurrently about the poor guy that got trashed at SDSU shows the damage this excess of zeal causes. Let's all be careful in characterizing individuals, even those found guilty by our courts, with generalized damnation. Reputations are easily destroyed, rarely repaired.

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Don Bauder May 12, 2015 @ 12:46 p.m.

rehftmann: There are excesses in a number of areas of the law. Sexual harassment is one of them. Another is hostile work environment. Predatory lawyers go fishing for cases and some people wind up with huge settlements.

In this case, the police officer was downright indecent. The victim deserved some compensation, but more than $1 million was excessive, in my opinion. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 12, 2015 @ 8:53 p.m.

Alan Peter: The appellate court didn't change the amount awarded the victim. Best, Don Bauder

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