Former district police chief sues high school district for millions

Former district police chief sues high school district for millions

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Lawyers for Joseph Lopeteguy, the former Kern High School District police chief, detailed a new suit against the district Monday. Attorneys argue the district retaliated against Lopeteguy after he refused to aid superiors in illegally using a police database. 

The damages sought from the district? Over 100 million dollars.

The 23 page complaint filed in court Friday targets the high school district and its board of trustees.

In the suit, accusations of harassment, a hostile work environment, intimidation, and even surveillance of Lopeteguy by his own police force. 

"The work environment and the retaliation was so extreme, that as a practical matter he can no longer work there," explained Seth O'Dell of Swanson O'Dell APC, one of three law firms working on the case. 

In a press conference Monday, his lawyers, including O'Dell, said Lopeteguy is seeking millions in damages.

"Over a hundred million potentially depending how the discovery goes," said O'Dell.

All after Lopeteguy says he refused to take part in the use of a law enforcement database system for non police-related work.

A 2016 sheriffs report obtained by 17 news details school officials using the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, or "CLETs," to illegally access  information about student athletes and others. 

According to the lawsuit, the district accused Lopeteguy of abusing the system himself.

"Those false accusations, that previous negative publicity, necessitates us telling you today about why we're filing this lawsuit," added O'Dell. 

The district declined to comment but , but said that the attorney's representing Lopeteguy were making a quote "obvious attempt to prejudice the district in the media, the community, and with the potential jury pool."

 

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