CATHEDRAL CITY –Police Chief Travis Walker on one occasion allegedly pulled out his penis and placed it in a female employee’s hand, according to a discrimination complaint filed with the California Department  of Fair Employment and Housing.

On at least six to eight separate occasions, Walker allegedly tried to fondle the female employee over and under her shirt, according to the complaint, which was filed June 3, 2019.

Walker was placed on paid administrative leave on May 2 and has been under investigation for a personnel issue. The details of the personnel issue have never been disclosed until now. Walker remains on paid administrative leave, City Manager Charles McClendon confirmed Thursday for Uken Report.

Shortly after Walker was placed on leave, an undisclosed firm was retained to “handle” the personnel matter. The name of the firm, how much it will cost, and other details were not released.

Anthony Yoakum

Deputy Police Chief Anthony Yoakum

Deputy Chief Anthony Yoakum has been acting chief during the Walker investigation.

The female employee’s name has been redacted from all documents Uken Report obtained. In the complaint she alleges that Walker harassed and discriminated against her because of her gender. She also alleges that she was denied a promotion. She claims Walker created a hostile work environment and asked impermissible non-job-related questions and more. She further alleges that she experienced retaliation because she reported or resisted any form of discrimination or harassment.

The woman worked for the Cathedral City Police Department from August 2010 until June 2017, according to the complaint. In January 2018, after having spent seven months in Nevada with her family, Walker allegedly recruited her back to the Cathedral City Police Department. Walker, according to the complaint, explained to the complainant that he had ideas for positions at the Police Department that he wanted to open and thought she would fit into some of those positions.

He even allegedly encouraged her to obtain a degree in Public Administration if she wanted to be considered for a future supervisor or manager position, according to the complaint. She returned to the Cathedral City Police Department in February 2018. At the time of her return, she was working night shifts. In trying to be a thoughtful co-worker, she brought in stress-relief items for the dispatch group on her shift. She also brought a gift bag for Chief Walker and a thank you card, according to the complaint.

The gift bag that she gave to Chief Walker contained an “S-hook,” which is sometimes used for a person to stretch his or her own back. Walker allegedly placed the S-hook between the female employee’s legs and rubbed her with it, according to the complaint. She was shocked by Walker’s actions and walked away to begin her shift, according to the complaint.

As the year progressed, on at least six to eight separate occasions, Walker would allegedly try to fondle the female employee over and under her shirt. On another occasion, Walker pulled out his penis and placed it in her hand, according to the complaint. Walker would make up reasons that he needed to see the employee in his office alone and she allegedly had no choice but to comply with Walker’s demands, according to the complaint.

Walker would grab her hands and force her to touch him, according to the complaint. Walker would also allegedly text her on her personal phone from either his personal or work phone. Due to the harassment that she was suffering, she applied for a position at another police department, according to the complaint.

The woman wanted to speak to Walker to let him know she was going to start background checks at other police departments – and let him know she and was considering leaving the Cathedral City Police Department, according to the complaint.

She wanted to inform him in a public place, according to the complaint. On Oct. 3, 2018, Walker texted that he was at a Law Enforcement conference at the Hotel Miramonte in Indian Wells. In the text message, she saw that Walker was outside the hotel in front of some fire pits and noticed there were other law enforcement personnel there, according to the complaint.

However, when she arrived, she texted him to confirm where to park and he replied with his room number, then called her cell phone to guide her around the complex, according to the complaint.

When she got to his room, Walker was wearing only boxer shorts and a shirt, according to the complaint. When she entered the room, Walker immediately led her right to the bed. He allegedly tried to pull off her clothes and he was being very aggressive and rough. Since her shoes were still on, it prevented Walker from taking off her pants, but Walker was able to pull down the female employee’s underwear and he put himself inside her, according to the complaint.

The complainant pushed him off and left the hotel. After the encounter at Walker’s hotel room, the female employee was numb, according to the complaint.

She did not know what to do.

She did not get the job at the other police department and ultimately withdrew in fear of the situation. Because she needed her job, she continued to work for the Cathedral City Police Department. Walker continued to sexually harass her by grabbing and fondling her, according to the complaint.

On April 30, 2019, the complainant reported the Oct. 3, 2018 incident to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The next day, she reported Walker’s behavior to the Human Resources department of the Cathedral City Police Department, according to the complaint.

The female employee has suffered severe emotional distress due to the sexual harassment she was forced to endure from Cathedral City Police Department’s Chief of Police, according to the complaint. She is currently off work due to stress and has been on anti-depressants and anxiety medication, according to the complaint.

When someone files a discrimination complaint, it sets in motion a series of legally required steps that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing must follow. The Department does not take sides when a complaint is first filed.

Because the complainant requested an Immediate Right to Sue notice, the Department will take no further action on the complaint and has closed it.

Darren J. Campbell of Anaheim is representing the complainant.

An internal administrative investigation continues, City Manager McClendon said.

The department has about 51 sworn officers and 32 professional staff employees. Cathedral City has about 54,000 people. It is the second largest community in the Coachella Valley.

Walker joined the Cathedral City Police Department in September of 2016, as the Deputy Chief of Police. Walker was name chief after Chief George Crum retired in November 2017.

Prior to joining thet Cathedral City Police Department, he spent 22 with the San Bernardino Police Department, where Walker worked a variety of assignments throughout his career; to include Patrol, Bicycle Mounted Enforcement, Narcotics, Gangs, K9, Specialized Enforcement Bureau, and various Detective, Supervisor, and Management Assignments.  He also served as the Tactical Commander during the 2015 terror attack in the city of San Bernardino.

 

 

 

Image Sources

  • Anthony Yoakum: Cathedral City Police Department
  • Travis Walker: Discover Cathedral City