Bay City News — The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has placed Chief Probation Officer David Muhammad on paid administrative leave after a deputy probation officer filed a $1.5 million claim accusing him of sexually assaulting and harassing her.
The board said chief of staff Brian Richart will be in charge while Muhammad is on leave but that board members cannot comment on the case because it is a confidential personnel matter.
Muhammad, 38, who was hired a year ago after holding top probation positions in New York City and Washington, D.C., couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
In her claim, which is a preliminary step to filing a lawsuit, the deputy probation officer alleges that Muhammad harassed her at a probation office in Hayward on May 15 when he noticed a discoloration on her neck, made multiple comments about it, laughed and joked about it and called it a "hickey."
The officer said Muhammad put his hands on her twice that day, prompting her to exclaim to another deputy, "Did you see that? He grabbed me!"
The deputy alleges that four days later, the morning of May 19, Muhammad asked her to pick him up at Oakland International Airport and drive him to a speaking engagement in Oakland but then instructed her to take him to the San Leandro Marina, which was empty at that time of day.
She said Muhammad suddenly grabbed her head and started kissing her, telling her, "We would make some pretty babies." The officer said when she tried to pull back, Muhammad "became very aggressive" and pulled her shirt down, cupped her breast and started to kiss it and penetrated her vagina "forcefully" with two of his fingers.
She said that when she eventually pushed him away, he told her she had excited him sexually and said, "I want you so bad, you just don't know it."
The deputy said that a day later, on May 20, Muhammad sent her multiple text messages and that she reluctantly agreed to meet with him as long as they weren't alone because she was worried about her job and what he might do to her if she ignored him.
She said in the claim that she met with Muhammad and his brother at a restaurant in Hayward and that at the end of the night he started to kiss her and grab her breasts and put his hand between her legs.
The deputy said she pushed his hand away but that he then grabbed her hand, placed it on his groin area and said she had excited him sexually. She said she pulled away and reiterated to Muhammad that she only wanted to be friends, and that Muhammad eventually left "angry and upset."
The claim says the deputy probation officer has suffered economic harm and has mental distress and anguish. It accuses Muhammad of sexual assault, false imprisonment, gender violence, sexual battery, assault, batter and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The California Attorney General's Office is conducting an investigation to see if criminal charges should be filed against Muhammad, according to attorney general's spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill.
Gledhill said the San Leandro Police Department investigated the officer's allegations and then submitted its report to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, which recused itself because it works closely with Muhammad.
Muhammad was formerly the executive director of the Mentoring Center in Oakland, and before he returned to Alameda County he served as Deputy Commissioner of New York City's Department of Probation, Adult Services, where he was responsible for overseeing 35,000 people on probation with a staff of 800.
Prior to his New York job, Muhammad served as the Chief of Committed Services for the Department of Youth Rehabilitating Services in Washington, D.C., where his responsibilities included overseeing a staff of 300, a $42 million annual budget and a juvenile institution with 900 youths in his department's care.
In an interview before he took over the Probation Department, Muhammad said he had gotten into trouble with the law as a youth in Oakland, and that as the county's chief probation officer he would try to help troubled youths improve their lives.
"I had my fair share of trouble and was in the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system," Muhammad said. But he said he turned his life around with the help of the Omega Boys Club, which paid for him to go to college.