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Posted On: December 15, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

City Pays $230,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Case

The city of Atherton will pay $230,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former police officer. According to court documents former Atherton police Officer Pilar Ortiz-Buckley alleged Public Works Supervisor Troy Henderson of making salacious remarks and grabbing her in the police break room. Ortiz-Buckley suffered back injuries during the alleged incident, which prevented her from wearing her police duty belt and made it impossible for her to do her job.

After Ortiz-Buckley filed an internal complaint with the town, administrators did almost nothing to discipline Henderson and in fact blamed the policewoman for the incident. This is a form or retaliation and happens very often in cases like this. Ortiz-Buckley later pressed charges and received a restraining order against Henderson. In the restraining order Ortiz-Buckley claimed Henderson had done this many times and was in fact a serial sexual harassor. Henderson denies all of the allegations.

"This is a significant amount of money, but litigation costs are very high," City Attorney Wynne Furth said. "It does not mean that the town agrees with Ms. Ortiz's claim. ... Atherton is a small town with a small budget."


Many times cases like this go to trial and after testimony is given by some of the parties, both sides agree to settle. The reason is that neither side wants to risk the jury verdict. It is important to be willing to see the case from start to finish in cases like this.

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