A lawsuit filed last year by the city’s former deputy finance director alleges her boss, Bob Samario (above), repeatedly subjected her to inappropriate comments and touching. | Credit: Courtesy

The City of Santa Barbara must turn over records of a sexual harassment investigation against former finance director Bob Samario, a judge ruled this week, as well as information related to Samario’s sexual history at the workplace. 

Judge Thomas Anderle’s decision was the latest legal turn in a pending lawsuit filed last year by former deputy finance director Jennifer Tomaszewski, who alleges Samario repeatedly subjected her to inappropriate comments and touching, including referring to her as his “work-wife” and insisting she join “Bob’s Hug Club.” Tomaszewski has also accused City Hall of unfairly passing her over for a promotion after she filed a complaint against Samario.

Anderle’s ruling grants Tomaszewski’s legal team access to the identities and statements of Santa Barbara staff who were interviewed during the city’s ensuing investigation. The city must also disclose the nature and date of any action it took in response to Tomaszewski’s complaint, Anderle said. Moreover, Anderle went on, the city is required to turn over records related to allegations made against Samario many years earlier that he had engaged in an extramarital relationship with a subordinate. 

City attorneys had argued such a disclosure would infringe on Samario’s right to privacy, but Anderle disagreed. “[The question] relates to whether the City was aware of Samario’s conduct, which plaintiff contends included improper sexual affairs with subordinate employees,” he stated. “Therefore, the information sought would be relevant and may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” In short, Anderle said, quoting previous case law: “The right to privacy does not come into play simply because the litigant would rather not reveal something.”

City attorneys had repeatedly resisted Tomaszewski’s lawyer’s requests for information, though not always fairly, Anderle also found. Their motions opposing disclosure were often “not substantially justified,” he said. Anderle therefore fined City Hall $3,000, which will be paid to Tomaszewski’s attorney.

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