Gay Discrimination Trial starts

Jury selection commenced this week in the discrimination suit brought by former Santa Barbara gay police officer Ruben Lino against the City of Santa Barbara and the S.B. Police Department. Lino quit the force in September 2003 after three years as a sworn peace officer — and eight more as a scout and reserve officer — charging he’d been frozen out by his fellow officers after complaining about repeated homophobic remarks by a sergeant, Lino’s superior officer. The sergeant allegedly said, regarding a case of a gay juvenile sodomized by an adult: “That’s okay, they’re all going to burn in hell anyway.”

In court papers, Lino claimed he consistently received stellar personnel evaluations until he testified in court in support of a gay public works employee who claimed he was denied a promotion based on his sexual orientation. (The city prevailed in that trial.) Lino quit the department in 2003, charging he was not given adequate back-up by fellow officers while on patrol. Lino also claimed Chief Cam Sanchez informed him his job would be waiting for him if he changed his mind. But when he tried to rejoin the force a month later, Lino said, he was denied his position by a superior who used a bogus bad credit report as the pretext. Lino further charged that no one in the department investigated his claim that the report was faulty. City attorney Steve Wiley declined to comment on the case, which is expected to last several weeks.

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