Santa Paula Police Chief Travis Walker Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Claims

Travis Walker, the former embattled police chief in Cathedral City, is under fire, this time in Santa Paula — for accusations of sexual harassment. Again.

Walker, Santa Paula’s chief of police, resigned this week amid multiple ongoing sexual harassment claims filed during his brief tenure, according to the Ventura County Star.

Santa Paula City Manager Dan Singer said Walker, 51, informed his staff of the resignation Thursday. In a news release, the city announced Walker’s departure as his retirement and said his last day would be Oct. 2, less than two years after he started.

Earlier this year, two separate complaints alleged sexual misconduct by Walker. In March, dispatcher Jennifer Schladetzky accused Walker of sexual harassment while the two worked together at the police station and at a professional conference, according to the newspaper. Santa Paula city employee Patricia Zavala also accused Walker of sexual battery in a complaint filed in May.

Prior to his time with Santa Paula police, Walker faced allegations of sexual harassment while working as police chief in Cathedral City. Walker and the city were sued for sexual harassment and workplace discrimination in 2019. The case was settled in 2020 with a $500,000 payout by the city.

The Cathedral City case was settled in 2020 with a payout by the city of $500,000. In that settlement, both Walker and the city denied wrongdoing. The plaintiff, Loran Candelas, had sued the city and Walker in July 2019 for sexual harassment and workplace discrimination and later also signed off on the settlement.

Candelas had alleged Walker made sexual advances toward her and accused him of attempting to fondle her on multiple occasions in the workplace. She also alleged he tried to force her to have sex with him at an Indian Wells hotel in October 2018.

The Santa Paula complaint is being handled by Irvine-based attorney Darren J. Campbell, who represented Candelas in the Cathedral City lawsuit.

The Santa Paula complaint notes those past accusations when naming the city as a defendant, saying “Santa Paula was aware of defendant Walker engaging in sexual harassment and sexual battery prior to hiring” him last year. He started the chief job in February 2021.

The Santa Paula dispatcher, Jennifer Schladetzky, alleges the sexual harassment began while she was the subject of an internal affairs investigation that ultimately was found to have no merit, according to the lawsuit.

While under that investigation, according to the complaint, Schladetzky was allegedly threatened by Walker, who used his position as chief to “extract sex” from her in a hotel during a professional conference in June 2021, the suit alleges.

In addition, between October and December last year, the suit alleges Walker forced the dispatcher to touch his genitals, fondled her and exposed himself while they were alone at the station and she was the only one working the department’s radio and emergency dispatch system.

Both of the Santa Paula cases remain ongoing, with Walker retaining legal representation provided by the city. Singer said Walker’s resignation does not have any “material effect” on the investigations.

“The sexual harassment claim about the chief is because of a workplace situation, and he’s been given legal representation,” Singer said, according to The Ventura County Star. “That will continue even after he leaves.”

Image Sources

  • Travis Walker: Discover Cathedral City