(BCN) — A former guard at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin is alleging that internal affairs for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office refused to investigate when he reported a colleague for sexually abusing two minors, according to a new lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.
Chris McMann joined the sheriff’s office as a recruit in 2017. McMann was working in the jail in November 2020, when he found out two of his daughters had allegedly been “molested by their uncle, Sgt. Kevin Estep,” the lawsuit alleges.
McMann’s attorney, Denise Eaton-May, did not respond to a request for an interview, but the complaint says McMann obtained inappropriate text messages from Estep, including one in which the sergeant told a minor to “let me see your ass.”
McMann then reported the suspected crime to the Brentwood Police Department, where investigators allegedly documented a “pre-text” call in which Estep made incriminating statements.
McMann’s lawsuit alleges that the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute Estep because of the “potential impact this type of trial would have on the minors,” but district attorney’s office spokesman Ted Asregadoo wrote in an email Thursday that prosecutors didn’t move forward in 2021 because, “there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt the charge against Kevin Estep.”
McMann also allegedly reported Estep to internal affairs, hoping their investigation might review the text messages and the police report from Brentwood. Instead, the lawsuit says the sheriff’s office withdrew the complaint on his behalf — without his consent — and refused to take any further action on the allegations against Estep.
The plaintiff argues they were “neglecting and summarily dismissing his grievance.”
After that, McMann alleges he faced multiple forms of retaliation. At one point, he was called in for a meeting with Division Cmdr. Jack Ray Tucker and presented with a false report fabricated by Lt. Andrew John Leca accusing McMann of unnecessary use of force, according to the civil complaint.
McMann was reportedly forced to work alone in a part of the jail populated by suspected sex offenders, despite a policy requiring a partner for such assignments. McMann also lost overtime hours, which impacted him financially, and was eventually reassigned to a unit in the coroner’s bureau, according to the plaintiff.
“After contemplating leaving the department due to the disparate treatment he was receiving, Mr. McMann was told that Undersheriff [Richard] Lucia indicated that he was glad Mr. McMann was leaving the department because his ‘career is shot,’ implying that his career within the agency was over because of his complaint of sexual misconduct that he filed against Sgt. Estep,” the lawsuit alleges.
Public records from Transparent California — a website that tracks public employee salary data — indicate Estep, Leca and McMann all left the sheriff’s office at some point in 2021. These records also show that in 2021 and 2022, Estep held a part-time job with the Administration of Justice program for the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District.
McMann is suing the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office for retaliating against him in violation of state labor law as well as failure to perform a mandatory duty by investigating his allegations against Estep. He’s asking for financial damages, attorney fees and court costs.
Alameda County sheriff’s spokesperson Lt. Tya Modeste declined to comment on the case, saying she is unable to discuss pending litigation with the media. Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler did not respond to a request for comment.
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