Guest Commentary: Orange County DA’s Office Hostility to Women

(Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

By Robert J. Hansen

Under Todd Spitzer, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has become a hostile work environment for women, rife with sexual harassment and failing to protect women according to an ongoing lawsuit filed last year by a Senior Assistant District Attorney.

If the Orange County DA can’t protect its female employees, then it certainly can’t protect women who live in Orange County.

Spitzer, the elected DA, forced Tracy Miller from her senior position by purposefully and intentionally retaliating against her after she reported sexual misconduct by former Senior Assistant District Attorney Gary LoGalbo, according to the lawsuit.

LoGalbo, who was Spitzer’s best man at his wedding, allegedly blocked the doorway in front of a female employee who was taking off her jacket.

LoGalbo then asked, “How much for the show?”

Miller reported that Chief Assistant District Attorney Shawn Nelson, in the presence of OCDA Spitzer, repeatedly said that LoGalbo did not have “real victims of sexual harassment.”

Not only was this information false, but the statement by Nelson and acceptance by Spitzer created a hostile working environment intended to silence reporters of harassment. The statements also made clear that reporting harassment in the OCDA’s office would not be told

Miller suffered and will continue to suffer, emotional distress, loss of past and future earnings, including loss of pension, and loss of reputation

This environment was created by gender-based harassment, intimidating, offensive, oppressive, or abusive, which was continual and calculated to undermine Miller’s effectiveness and authority.

Despite this ongoing lawsuit, the Orange County Board of Supervisors had the nerve to give Spitzer an award for the work his office has done for victims of sexual assault and abuse at a meeting just last month.

“We are all better when women stand up and stand together to help other women come forward,” Spitzer said while accepting the award.

What kind of protector, the top law enforcement official in the County, lies to the faces of elected officials and the public saying that he cares about protecting women?

I mean, the absolute nerve.

John Barnett, Miller’s attorney, said when this kind of environment is tolerated, victims are retaliated against and predators are protected and the public’s safety is threatened and jeopardized.

“No female prosecutor wants to admit to being a victim of sexual assault or harassment when they see they are not going to be believed,” Barnett said.

Barnett said if the DA can’t protect female prosecutors who are not believed when they report sexual harassment, then they can’t protect victims.

Julie Holburn had a protective restraining order against her ex-husband, Mr. Holburn who had violated those orders over a dozen times between 2014 and 2021, according to court records.

Mr. Holburn has withheld their two children several times and records show a history of child abuse.

Their children have told their court-appointed counsel that their father has abused them.

A March 2021 incident began when Mr. Holburn withheld the two children for days after they should have been returned to their mother.

When Julie came for her kids, without a car, she waited outside Mr. Holburn’s apartment until she saw the kids.

The kids ran for their mother when they made eye contact.

Mr. Holburn chased after grabbing at and trying to restrain the children and started to chase after them when they broke free. He chased them down a city block while trying to grab and restrain the kids and his ex-wife.

The kids were still screaming while their dad grabbed ahold of their mom, then Julie’s adult older son beat Mr. Holburn to get him off of his mom.

The Orange County DA never filed charges against Mr. Holburn for allegedly violating restraining orders, withholding the children or for any of the reported assaults.

The DA’s office cited a lack of sufficient evidence to charge Mr. Holburn.

At the same meeting where Spitzer received the award, Julie said during public comment that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has not kept her or her children safe from an allegedly abusive father and ex-husband.

Sometime during the meeting, Julie said she introduced herself to Spitzer and when she asked him if he was going to help her with her case, he said “I don’t know.”

If Spitzer cared about women, he wouldn’t tell a single mother he doesn’t know if he was going to help her.

About The Author

Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Robert is covering the Yolo County DA's race for the Vanguard.

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