Accusations against Alameda County Chief Probation Officer David Muhammad were solidified Tuesday with the filing of a $1.5 million lawsuit by a woman who says Muhammad sexually harassed her when he was her supervisor.
The lawsuit follows an initial claim filed in mid-February against the county alleging sexual harassment and other abuses. Alameda County supervisors suspended Muhammad Feb. 14 from his duties overseeing youth and adult offenders released to county supervision and, four days ago, appointed LaDonna Harris to temporarily lead the department.
The plaintiff in the suit, a deputy probation officer who went to work for the department in March 2007, claims that she was subjected to sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual battery, assault, battery, false imprisonment, gender violence and "intentional infliction of emotional distress" by Muhammad, her supervisor. He began work with the county on Feb. 14, 2011.
Identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, the woman claims Muhammad escalated inappropriate comments and behavior from an initial incident May 15, 2011, through October 2011.
"The allegations made against me are completely false and outrageous," Muhammad wrote in a statement when the supervisors suspended him. "These fabricated claims are a clear attempt to extort payment from the county," he said. "I do urge everyone to withhold judgment until an investigation is completed that will fully exonerate me."
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The investigation is being handled by the office of state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
The lawsuit also claims that another woman with whom Muhammad worked said he sexually assaulted her when he was chief of committed services at the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services in Washington, D.C. The employee reported Muhammad for sexual harassment to the deputy director of DYRS, according to the lawsuit.
The deputy director transferred her immediately to another division.
Another female correctional officer at DYRS wrote a letter complaining about him to Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, the lawsuit says.
Kelly Armstrong, who is representing Jane Doe in the Alameda County lawsuit, said she is aware of at least two other potential claimants by subordinate female employees, which are currently being investigated.
"The fact that David Muhammad is on paid leave while my client remains on unpaid leave despite multiple requests to the County is outrageous," Armstrong said in a statement.
Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said he thought the board exercised due diligence in screening Muhammad for his job. "We were pretty confident," Carson said.
Muhammad had to pass through a rigorous background check standard for law enforcement staff and an independent interview panel, Carson said.