LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Tuesday publicly defended his reinstatement of a deputy who was fired two years ago over allegations of domestic abuse.
Villanueva defended the move at a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting in which the board passed a motion reprimanding Villanueva for reinstating Deputy Sheriff Caren Carl Mandoyan and challenging him to reconsider, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In 2016, Deputy Sheriff Caren Carl Mandoyan was fired by then-Sheriff Jim McConnell after a fellow deputy alleged Mandoyan grabbed her by the neck, tried to break into her home twice, sent her harassing text messages and admitted to listening to her conversations, according to the Los Angeles Times. A county appeals board heard evidence in the case and upheld Mandoyan’s dismissal.
Mandoyan was never criminally charged in the case.
The motion calls for the county’s five supervisors to send a joint letter to Villanueva expressing their concern and asking the sheriff to reconsider the reinstatement. It also directs county counsel to examine the procedures the supervisors can take in navigating conflicts with the sheriff.
Villanueva Tuesday argued that there were a half-dozen similar cases that he planned to share with the board behind closed doors.
“When you hear the details of the cases, you’re going to have a change of mind,” the sheriff told the supervisors.
Despite his firing, Mandoyan played a key role in Villanueva’s election campaign last year in which he narrowly defeated McConnell. Mandoyan allegedly helped convince deputies to rally behind Villanueva, the Times reports. He even served as Villanueva’s driver during the campaign and appeared on-stage at his swearing-in ceremony in December.
Speaking before the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission last week, Villanueva questioned the credibility of the accuser, saying the fact that she waited nearly a year to report her claims and her decision to quit the department just before she was about to testify were “big warning signs.”
Villanueva Tuesday said those comments were misrepresented, but insisted that the facts did not support an allegation of domestic violence, going so far as to object to the board using the term victim.
“We could safely call her a complainant,” Villanueva said.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was critical of the sheriff.
“It seemed like your own attitude was … if they don’t speak up, how serious can it be?” Kuehl told him Tuesday. “I’m really worried and concerned about the message that is being sent … what it means for women in your department … what it means about women in our jails.”
Villanueva countered, “I do care about the victims of domestic violence and I will do everything in my power to make sure that their voices are heard” and perpetrators brought to justice.
However, he alleged that the Civil Service Commission has ignored “a mountain of (exculpatory) evidence” in some cases. Citing a six-fold increase in terminations, Villanueva said it had been “politically expedient to have a high body count” related to deputy misconduct during Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s tenure.
The motion was mostly symbolic. The board has little direct control over Villanueva.
“The reinstatement and the reasoning for it sends a disturbing message that a crime victim should not be believed based on the timing of the allegations and one person’s doubt about his or her credibility,” Kuehl wrote in her motion.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)