SAN LEANDRO — The City Council has agreed to settle two lawsuits that accuse a former police officer of sexual harassment and assault.
The settlements include cash payments of $92,500 and $95,000, and a pledge to use outside investigators if similar accusations are made in the future.
The settlements, approved Monday, stem from complaints filed in 2005 and 2006 against then-Police Officer Greg Cannedy, who now has a separate criminal case being reviewed by the California Court of Appeal.
Cannedy, who was hired as a San Leandro police officer in 2001, retired in November 2006, a month after the Alameda County District Attorney's Office filed counts of felony false imprisonment, misdemeanor sexual battery, and battery against him.
Cannedy pleaded not guilty to the charges. Arguments in the case were heard June 23 by the Court of Appeal in San Francisco. A judge's decision is pending.
Starlah Burke and Jennifer Acuna filed civil lawsuits in 2007 and 2008, respectively, in U.S. District Court against the city and Cannedy, accusing Cannedy of sexual harassment and civil rights violations.
The council agreed to pay Acuna $92,500 and Burke $95,000, City Attorney Jayne Williams said.
In addition, the council adopted a policy to have outside investigators handle any future investigations of sexual harassment complaints against on-duty officers.
The policy, which will be in effect for only two years, also allows the city to conduct an internal investigation. But the city must consider the findings of the outside investigator, including any recommendations for disciplinary action.
No dollar amount was attached to the cost of hiring outside investigators.
Eric Safire, a San Francisco attorney who represented Acuna and Burke, said Monday, "It is important to my clients that some independent agency investigates (accusations of sexual harassment)."
Safire said that Burke, in particular, said it was "intimidating" when Cannedy's department colleagues and friends questioned her.
Burke and Acuna were in their 20s when they said in their suits that Cannedy touched and stalked them. Acuna said Cannedy befriended her at her job at a local gym. He then appeared at her home in August 2006, entered uninvited, and groped her, Acuna told city representatives and the district court.
Burke said Cannedy groped her during a December 2005 traffic stop, then made unwanted sexual advances and frequently appeared in uniform near her home over a period of several months.
Karen Holzmeister covers San Leandro. Reach her at 510-293-2478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.