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Former Santa Monica Police Chief Accused of Retaliation, Harassment

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By Jorge Casuso

December 23, 2019 -- The former top aide to Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Jr. is accusing Santa Monica's former police chief of sexual harassment and retaliation after she allegedly ended their longstanding romantic relationship.

The allegations were made as part of a wrongful termination case filed by Melanie McDade-Dickens, who rose from working on Butts' 2011 mayoral campaign to acting assistant City manager in 2018 earning $342,000 a year in salary and benefits.

In a 12-page letter sent to the City Thursday, her attorney, Carl Douglas, "details several instances of alleged verbal harassment and attempts to follow her," according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The letter also claims that after their romantic relationship ended, Butts threatened her with physical harm and “shouted at, cursed her or threatened her at work.”

A lawyer representing the City of Inglewood said Butts -- who served as Santa Monica police chief from 1991 to 2006 -- “categorically denies any allegations relating to alleged harassment or retaliation,” according to the report.

The allegations were presented Friday during a per-disciplinary hearing for McDade-Dickens after the City gave her a notice of intent last month to terminate her job, according to media reports.

McDade Dickens has been a central witness in a lawsuit involving the City, the Los Angeles Clippers and the owners of the Forum over a proposed $1.1 billion basketball arena.

In February, a deposition given in the lawsuit alleged that McDade-Dikens would be a biased witness because she was involved in a romantic relationship with Butts, who lives separately from his wife, according to reports in the Daily Breeze.

Butts has declined to either confirm or deny the two have been involved in "a years-long consensual romantic relationship," according to the Times.

Douglas said in his letter that Butts began retaliating against McDade-Dickens after she ended their relationship in March 2018, the Times reported.

“Mayor Butts was not willing to accept Ms. McDade’s decision that she wanted to move on with her life without him, so he began a campaign of sexually harassing her,” the letter said.

One year later, Butts "stripped" her of her title of assistant city manager.

It remains unclear why McDade-Dickens was suspended in July, but Douglas cites 15 allegations against his client, including having co-workers help with her personal chores, according to the Time report.

The law firm hired by the City of Inglewood, Millar Barondess, which also represents the City in the ongoing litigation against the Forum's owner, Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), cites McDade-Dickson's role in the lawsuit.

In October, McDade-Dickens submitted changes to 148 answers she gave in two depositions as part of the lawsuit, according to a report in the Real Deal.

The City denied the claims she made and asked a judge to dimiss her corrections, saying they were made in coordination with MSG and constituted “perjury on a massive scale,” according to the report.

According to Transparent California, a database of public salaries, McDade-Dickens saw her salary rise from $73,850 in 2013 to to $289,864 last year, ("Inglewood Mayor's personal Assistant Earned $312,000 Last Year, Investigation Finds," June 7, 2018.

Butts, whose annual salary is $111,303, said that McDade-Dickens' duties had been greatly expanded to include those previously performed by an assistant city manager, deputy city manager and executive assistant.

The sexual harassment claim is not the first one McDade-Dickson has filed.

In 2011, she settled a harassment suit filed against her former boss, Anthony Samad, the former head of 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, acording to the Daily Breeze.

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