OAKLAND -- The most lurid chapter in Oakland's decade-long police reform saga ended Monday when a federal judge sided with the department's court-appointed monitor who was accused last year of making sexual advances on the city administrator.
In a one-paragraph order, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said that an investigation into the accusations had not "in any way diminished" his confidence in Robert Warshaw's "professionalism or his ability to perform his duties."
Details of the investigation, undertaken by retired federal Judge James Larson, remain under seal. Warshaw and City Administrator Deanna Santana both declined interview requests Monday.
Henderson's order effectively denies Oakland's wish to oust Warshaw, a former Rochester, N.Y., police chief, who is responsible for monitoring the police department's progress on a host of reforms stemming from the Riders police brutality scandal.
"I'm very happy for (Warshaw)," said Jim Chanin, an attorney who represented plaintiffs in the Riders civil case. "I feel he's done a good job, and I haven't seen anything at any time when the two of them were together that was inappropriate."
Henderson issued the order Monday at the request of Warshaw, who was still getting asked about the allegations.
According to sources, Santana had accused Warshaw of making inappropriate statements to her during several meetings beginning last spring. Sources had said that Warshaw proposed that Santana meet him at private locations and once took her hand and told her that she looked "stunning."
Although there isn't enough public information to verify the allegations, Patricia Bellasalma, California Chapter president for National Organization for Women, said that keeping Warshaw on the job could make it harder to build the trust needed to complete reforms.
"Something took place that made a distinguished woman very uncomfortable," Bellasalma said. "The judge has the power to do what he wants, but that doesn't mean he's doing the right thing to facilitate a better police department."
Last year, Warshaw found that Oakland police were backsliding on reforms instituted in 2003 to help the department better police itself and hold officers accountable. Police leaders have disputed several of his findings; their objections are under review.
The department's failure to complete the reforms -- which were supposed to be done by 2008 -- led Henderson earlier this year to appoint former Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier to a powerful new post with the authority to spend city funds and demote commanders in the name of finally plowing through the remaining tasks.
Both former chiefs report directly to Henderson, who has ordered that their salaries come from city coffers. Warshaw's consulting firm, Police Performance Solutions, LLC, has a two-year contract worth $1.78 million.
Sexual harassment allegations against Warshaw surfaced in August when city attorneys filed a motion letting Henderson know they were reviewing "potentially damaging" allegations concerning "communications between the court monitor and city officers."
Henderson later denied the city's request to bar all communications with Warshaw and assigned Larson to look into the allegations.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.