A former female Ukiah Police Department officer is suing the Ukiah Police Department, the City of Ukiah, and Kevin Murray alleging he sexually assaulted her. After reporting it to her superiors, she purportedly faced a work culture of discrimination and retaliation.
Some considerations when reading this piece: there are graphic descriptions of sexual violence that could be disturbing to readers. Also, out of sensitivity to the alleged victim of the sexual harassment and assault, we will withhold the plaintiff’s name.
A civil complaint filed in the Mendocino County Superior Court was submitted on behalf of a former female officer of the Ukiah Police Department bringing to light allegations of sexual assault and harassment at the hands of then Sergeant Kevin Murray. Former Ukiah Police Department Sergeant Kevin Murray’s exploits came to light in late January 2021 after our reporting revealed charges had been filed against him for allegedly entering the hotel room of a woman on November 25, 2020 and committing sexual battery against her.
The female officer filing this recent complaint alleges that when she reported this to her superiors, she was allegedly met with a culture of indifference and discrimination which proved to her that, “Murray was untouchable and would be protected at all costs to the detriment of others.”
According to the civil court filing, the former female Ukiah Police Department officer (who will be referred to as “Plaintiff”) began her career with UPD in August 2013.
The plaintiff’s claims of sexual assault and harassment occurred in October 2013 when she attending a training program with three other UPD officers including Kevin Murray. The civil complaint describes on the first evening of the training Plaintiff meeting with some of the officers, including Murray, “to play cards and drink alcohol.” Calling it a night, Plaintiff left the gathering to return to her hotel room and as she stepped onto the elevator, Murray “stuck his hand in the door and insisted on escorting Plaintiff to her room.”
When the pair arrived at her hotel room, Murray “asked to come inside” telling her he would be providing her advice “since he was a ‘senior officer,’ and she was still on probation.”
The pair spoke briefly and eventually, she told Murray “he should leave.” In response, Murray “grabbed Plaintiff’s hand and began caressing her breasts.” She attempted to remove Murray’s hands but was unsuccessful. Murray responded by allegedly “aggressively shov[ing] his hands up Plaintiff’s shirt and continuing fondling her breasts.”
Murray reportedly demanded a “good-night kiss” from the Plaintiff all the while reminding her that she “is still on probation, she ‘doesn’t have family nearby,’ that her ‘daughter depends on’ her having this job, and that ‘nobody at the Department will believe her.’”
Finally, Plaintiff ran towards the bathroom when Murray began to pull her towards the bedroom. When she finally opened the bathroom door, Kevin Murray was allegedly “standing in front of her, naked, with an erect penis.” Frightened, Plaintiff once again closed and locked the bathroom door where she remained, sleeping on the bathroom floor out of fear for her safety. Plaintiff finally left the bathroom when she “heard snoring and opened the door to find Murray asleep on her bed, still completely naked.” After this discovery, the plaintiff immediately left the room.
Plaintiff was reportedly “shaken up from Murray’s conduct the following day at training.” When her fellow officer asked her what was troubling her, Murray reportedly moved close behind her and “whispered in her ear, ‘You’re fine. Nothing happened, and no one will believe you.’”
Approximately two months later, when Plaintiff began dating her current husband, Murray is alleged to have said her boyfriend “only wants what [I] wanted. That’s all he wants you for.”
Approximately two years later, in October 2015, Plaintiff became a detective where she learned that Murray had been involved in numerous internal affairs investigations “accused for things like pulling out his gun at a party, drug abuse, sex addiction, and for violating other Department policies.”
Plaintiff alleged Murray “laughed and bragged about not getting in trouble with the Department for these violations.” This information “confirmed Plaintiff’s fears: Murray was untouchable and would be protected at all costs to the detriment of others.”
The civil complaint alleges in March or April 2020 the Ukiah Police Department removed the lock from the women’s locker room leaving a “fist-sized hole in the door that passersby could easily gaze through.” Murray was allegedly seen pacing “back and forth in front of the women’s locker room once the lock was removed.”
Plaintiff reported to her Lieutenant that “she was not comfortable changing in or using the locker room with the lock being removed” and “having the lock removed triggered some past trauma.” In what the civil complaint alleges was a form of discrimination and harassment based on gender, her complaints were reportedly “disregarded” and the Lieutenant responded that he would “talk to the guys about it.” This atmosphere forced her to the Fire Department side of the building to use their women’s bathroom and get dressed.
Approximately one month later, Kevin Murray “began assigning Plaintiff duties based on her gender, including non-detective duties.” The criminal complaint alleged the Plaintiff was asked to write a report for a case involving a woman who had nude photographs stolen off her phone and used without her permission. Murray told Plaintiff she would be handling the case because the victim was “fat, ugly, and not my type.”
In response, Plaintiff allegedly reported to Detective Sergeant Rick that she was being assigned duties based on gender which she asserted was against Department policy. Detective Sergeant Rick allegedly dismissed her claims and “ordered Plaintiff to handle the report for the case.” Plaintiff also told Detective Sergeant Rick “she feared Murray and his harassing and discriminatory conduct based on sex/gender, but nothing was done.”
After purportedly being left unheard by Detective Sergeant Rick, Plaintiff reported to her Lieutenant these complaints of gender discrimination and harassment. Again, Plaintiff allegedly found herself unsupported after the Lieutenant did not “investigate, address, or attempt to abate the unlawful conduct which Plaintiff reported.” Murray was later overheard talking to other male officers mocking Plaintiff for her complaint saying “he had ‘gotten away with it’ even though Plaintiff ‘ran and cried to Lieutenant.’”
Later, Plaintiff had to conduct follow-up investigations on the case involving the woman whose nude photographs were stolen. While conducting these follow-ups, Detective Sergeant Rick allegedly became aware of the explicit nature of the photos and “excitedly told Plaintiff that ‘you have to show the [photographs] to [Murray].'”
She told Detective Sergeant Rick the request was “inappropriate and unprofessional” and, in response, he “ordered Plaintiff to show Murray the explicit, nude photographs for ‘identification’ purposes.”
Reportedly, when Murray was shown these photographs, he said, “Wow, [the victim] looks good here.” Murray then asked Plaintiff to “watch the explicit videos that had been produced in the investigation, even though it was not his case or responsibility to do so.” Regarding this request, Plaintiff refused but later that day found Detective Sergeant Rick and Murray “sitting at her computer watching the explicit videos of the victim.”
Once again, believing herself to be a victim of “discrimination, harassment, and a hostile work environment based on sex,” she reported her experience to the Lieutenant. This resulted in further discrimination and harassment from Detective Sergeant Rick who allegedly “began isolating, ostracizing, and ignoring Plaintiff and assigning her extra investigation.”
In June 2020, Plaintiff alleges her schedule was changed “without explanation or warning” soon followed by being demoted to Patrol resulting in a pay cut. Both of these actions were purported to be a result of harassment and discrimination.
As a result of the experienced hostile work environment, Plaintiff chose to submit her two-week notice and planned to apply at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. In response, the civil complaint alleges Detective Sergeant Rick assigned Plaintiff “four complex investigations only a few days before her last day of work” and also “refused to write Plaintiff’s performance evaluation for the month of October.”
Murray, in retaliation of her voicing complaints and leaving the force, is reported to have “posted a photo-shopped image of Plaintiff throughout the Department,” which “prompted peers to reprimand her for resigning and blame her for another officer not being able to promote due to limited staffing after Plaintiff’s departure.”
In November 2020, Plaintiff met with Chief Justin Wyatt and Lieutenant Noble Waidelich for her exit interview where she once again, “disclosed all instances of sexual harassment and misconduct she experienced while working at the Department and the Department’s refusal to address her complaints.” During this process, she reportedly became “visibly upset and began to cry” and Chief Wyatt responded “stop crying. You are getting too emotional.”
Instead of addressing her complaints, Chief Wyatt purportedly said “she should have reported her complaints to DA investigators,” who were actively investigating Kevin Murray at the time for a series of crimes he reportedly committed on November 25, 2020, including burglary, sexual battery, and possession of methamphetamine.
The civil complaint alleges that Chief Wyatt “further threatened Plaintiff and said, “Remember, Matt (the sheriff) and I have been friends for a long time.”
Four key complaints are alleged in the civil complaint by the Plaintiff all based on law associated with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): discrimination in violation of FEHA, sexual harassment/hostile work environment in violation of FEHA, retaliation in violation of FEHA, and failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of FEHA.
In totality, the civil complaint asserts this culture of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and a hostile work environment adversely affected her ability to perform her job and carry out her duties as a Ukiah Police officer. Further, Plaintiff is said to have suffered losses in earnings and other employment benefits and “past and future non-economic injury.” The circumstances have led to “damage to her professional reputation and her ability to work” and “adversely affected her personal health and well-being, including medical expenses.” Plaintiff also suffered “extensive general damages in the form of anxiety, anguish, and mental suffering.” In total, the civil complaint asserts these damages amount to an excess of $25,000.
The criminal complaint filed in January 2021 states Murray forced the woman in that case to touch his “penis against her will, for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.” Other charges stemming from that criminal complaint included burglary, possession of methamphetamine, and violation of civil rights stemming from excessive use of force.
On January 29, 2021, Chief Justin Wyatt announced to the public Kevin Murray was “no longer employed with the Ukiah Police Department” and asserted the department “reached out to the District Attorney immediately and asked for a criminal investigation into Murray’s conduct the evening of November 25, 2020.” During this statement, Chief Wyatt stated Murray’s actions “in no way reflects the standards of the city of Ukiah or the Ukiah Police Department.”
In late February, a new series of criminal charges were filed again against Kevin Murray by the Mendocino County District Attorney after another woman recounted being assaulted by Murray in an instance during which he allegedly raped her, forced oral copulation, all while in possession of a firearm.
Also worth noting, these charges that led to Murray’s firing were not the first major complaints regarding his professional conduct UPD had to navigate. A civil rights lawsuit filed by Ukiah resident Christopher Rasku* alleges on October 18, 2018, Murray entered Rasku’s home unlawfully, knocking him unconscious, and proceeded to punch and kick him, causing broken ribs, a punctured lung, and nerve damage. Murray allegedly wrote a falsified police report claiming Rasku started the encounter. The civil rights lawsuit alleges Murray gained unlawful entry to Rasku’s residence and used excessive force.
As of Wednesday morning, August 25, 2021, we have reached out to the Ukiah Police Department regarding the allegations contained in the civil complaint filed on behalf of the former female UPD officer. Due to the inquiry being about pending litigation, we do not expect UPD leadership to be able to comment on the allegations but will update the article or provide a follow-up if a substantive response is received.
Also, with due respect to the potential victim of the circumstances described, it must be stated that the allegations contained within the aforementioned civil and criminal complaints have not been proven in a court of law. In both of these circumstances, in accordance with the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
*This reporter knows Christopher Rasku personally.
UPDATE 12:36 p.m.: Chief Justin Wyatt responded to our inquiries regarding the civil litigation facing the Ukiah Police Department and told us due to the on-going lawsuit “we are not able to provide a comment in the matter.”