Bay City News — Alameda County Chief Probation Officer David Muhammad has a history of sexually harassing female employees, according to a lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court yesterday.
The suit, who alleges that Muhammad, 38, sexually harassed and assaulted her on several occasions in 2011, says that an employee who worked for him at the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services in Washington, D.C., has filed a claim accusing him of harassing her in 2009.
San Francisco attorney Kelly Armstrong, who represents the Alameda County employee, said today that, "It appears that the county's hiring procedures need to be scrutinized."
But Supervisor Keith Carson said Muhammad's background was thoroughly investigated by an outside recruiter and other outside experts when the county conducted a nationwide search for a new chief probation officer in late 2010.
Carson said, "There was no hint of any improprieties on a personal or professional level" during the search for a new person to head the Probation Department, which has a staff of 600 people and a $90 million budget.
Carson said county officials take the deputy probation officer's allegations against Muhammad "very seriously" but he also "would be deeply shocked if it comes out that they are true."
The county Board of Supervisors placed Muhammad, 38, on paid administrative leave on Feb. 14 after the employee filed a $1.5 million claim against him.
Armstrong said the lawsuit, which names both Muhammad and Alameda County as defendants, is seeking unspecified general, special and punitive damages on behalf of the deputy probation officer, alleging that she has suffered economic harm and has mental distress and anguish.
The Board of Supervisors hired Muhammad in December 2010 after he held top probation positions in New York City and Washington, D.C. He began his Alameda County job on Feb. 14, 2011.
The California Attorney General's Office is conducting an investigation to see if criminal charges should be filed against Muhammad and Carson said the county is conducting a separate investigation of him.
, a former division commander in the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, to serve as acting chief probation officer.
Armstrong said that in addition to the female employee in Washington who has filed a complaint against Muhammad, two other potential complaints by female employees who worked for him there are also being investigated.
A spokesperson for the Department of Youth Services in Washington, D.C., said today that Muhammad resigned from his post there on Sept. 10, 2010, but didn't disclose the reason for his resignation.
Armstrong said the officer is on medical leave due to the injuries she suffered when .
Carson said that when the Board of Supervisors interviewed Muhammad after his employee filed her claim against him "he admitted they had some kind of personal interaction at some point."
Carson said, "It appeared to have been consensual but it went past that point and that is a gray area."
In an interview before he began his Alameda County job, Muhammad said he got into trouble with the law while he was growing up in Oakland but he said he turned his life around with the help of the Omega Boys Club, which paid for him to go to college.