OAKLEY — A former police chief who left the department under a cloud of mystery, barely a year on the job, after an outside investigator found evidence of persistent sexual assault, including an affair with a subordinate, who She had reportedly put pressure on him for months until she finally agreed. To have sex with her, according to newly released documents.
The investigation – initiated by the city and obtained through a Public Records Act request by this news organization – paint a picture of a municipal workplace with rumors of sexual harassment and cases among the city’s top officials and subordinates. Two of the women who gave statements to investigators said the harassment of Police Chief Dean Capelli began just weeks after he joined the department, and included unwanted touching, sexual remarks and lewd behavior.
Capelli was placed on administrative leave in September last year after the women came forward – just a year into his term. According to records, he was fired two months later in November.
One of the women said that Capellatti reached under her skirt and grabbed her at work and asked her to stop, but he continued to push on, repeatedly inviting her to a hotel room, until He “given” and they started an affair. Both accusers initially reported Capellatti’s conduct to a police lieutenant rather than the city’s human resources director, as one of the women believed there was a relationship between Capaletti and the city’s former human resources director. None of the women’s names appear in the documents issued by the city.
In an interview with an outside investigator hired by the city, Capelli denied most of the allegations, but admitted that he made sexual jokes on occasion. He also admitted that he had what he described as a consensual relationship with one of his accusers – although he claimed that they did not have intercourse, but only engaged in “the stuff teens do”. She portrayed him as a despised ex who was “super tight” with his other accuser.
“Whatever stupidity I did, I’ll own up to it, but with some of this nonsense that she’s coming up with, it’s clear to me that she’s very angry,” said Capaletti. However, the investigator determined a “probable lie” in his responses to Capelli.
Capelli could not be reached for comment.
Oakley City manager Joshua McMurray said it was “concerning” that the women felt they could not go to HR.
“As soon as the allegations were brought to my notice, we acted immediately,” he said. “Ever since I fired the police chief, it has been my goal to ensure that the culture of sexual harassment claims described by employees will never happen again.
“And it starts with making sure we have the right leaders in different departments, especially human resources,” he said.
In September 2020, Capellatti became Oakley’s third police chief and created his own police force, five years after terminating his contract with the city’s Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. Prior to this, he had an 18-year police career at La Habra, where he was promoted to captain. When his recruitment was announced, then-City manager Brian Montgomery praised his ability to “build relationships of trust”, and then-Mayor Kevin Romick predicted that his “excellent law enforcement and personal skills” were a good fit for the city. Will happen.
But soon after they were sworn in, harassment began, according to written statements both women provided as part of the investigation.
“Within the first 2 weeks of his employment, he started asking me to meet him at his hotel. He was asking me over text messages as well as in person,” wrote one of the accused. On more than one occasion, she said, Capellatti called her into his office, told her he “had something[for]him,” and pointed to her crotch, she wrote.
In the end, “after several months of pressuring me to have sex with him, I agreed to meet him at a hotel,” the woman wrote. She said that when she told Capellatti she was terrified to go there, he told her to wear a mask and glasses so that she would not be recognized, and later drove them to her downtown truck parked near Brentwood Park. had sex.
The woman wrote that on the evening of July 31, 2021, Capellatti was seen kissing the former Oakley human resources director inside her office, after which their affair ended. In an exchange of heated text messages that followed, Capellatti denied having an affair with the director. The accuser said that Capellatti’s sexual harassment continued even after that The relationship with him ended.
Capellatti’s second accuser told investigators that during an event celebrating a police promotion, Capellatti stuck his shoe between his feet, saying, “Clearly I didn’t shine my shoes well today.”
The woman wrote, “The next week he rubbed my back several times in my bra area.” She said that Capelli also stroked her breasts on several occasions.
Both women made their allegations to Lieutenant Paul Beard about their concerns on August 31, 2021. When McMurray asked why they didn’t go to HR, they said they feared retaliation based on their belief there was a relationship between Capellatti and the HR director.
The HR director has long served in the city, though the city declined to say whether he was fired or left, saying it was a private personnel matter. The former director did not respond to requests for comment. When asked for any documentation about possible wrongdoing by the director, which was discloseable under state law, the city reported having “no liable record.”
Capellatti admitted to making some inappropriate remarks like “taking a survey” with other employees to see if they would allow their wives to have sex with the former city manager. But Capellatti denied having sex with his accuser.
But the prosecuting attorney for the city concluded that Capellatti’s denials were likely dishonest, noting that he admitted to poor judgment and stopped short of admitting sex with a subordinate. He notes that Capellatti lied in some of his comments, denying that he ever texted “Pretty then, beautiful now” to a woman who sent him pictures of himself as a child and in high school. However, investigators found such an email.
Beard – the lieutenant for whom charges against Capellati were initially reported – was sworn in as Oakley’s police chief in January, the city’s fourth chief in six years.
In an interview, McMurray acknowledged the “high rate of turnover” and “instability in our police department”, but said Beard has his full confidence. He said that going into the beard with the allegations made women feel safer, a fact that played a big part in his decision to hire him.
“I am 100 percent confident that Beard will be able to rebuild public trust,” McMurray said.