San Mateo Harbor District Releases Report Into Sexual Harassment Claim - NBC Bay Area
Peninsula

Peninsula

The latest news from around the Peninsula

San Mateo Harbor District Releases Report Into Sexual Harassment Claim

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    San Mateo Harbor District Sexual Harassment Investigation

    A complaint over sexual harassment has exploded into a public controversy for the San Mateo County Harbor District. Robert Handa reports. (Published Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018)

    A complaint over sexual harassment has exploded into a public controversy for the San Mateo County Harbor District.

    As NBC Bay Area first reported last year, a harbor commissioner accused another board member of sexual harassment and retaliation, which led to an independent investigation.

    The harbor district board voted to release the investigation report unredacted, which means those sexually explicit pictures at the center of this dispute will also be made public.

    But another important issue looms: who actually won in this fight?

    The San Mateo County Harbor District Board is mainly known for its role in the annual Mavericks Surf contest. But it has gotten more notice after a commissioner, Sabrina Brennan, filed a complaint of sexual harassment against fellow commissioner Tom Mattusch.

    "It wasn’t until the ‘Me Too’ movement that I really recognized that it was important that I take a leadership role,” Brennan said.

    Brennan accused Mattusch of conspiring to take her off key committees after she complained of harassment.

    The district hired an independent investigator who compiled a 54-page report.

    It confirms that Mattusch admitted sending Brennan eight sexually explicit photos.

    The report indicates Mattusch said "he believed Brennan would think the email was funny because she is a lesbian."

    "I was shocked by his response," Brennan said. "Which was to to sort of 'laugh' it off as a joke."

    Mattusch contacted NBC Bay Area and said he and the district take the issue of sexual harassment seriously. He said he believes the investigation was done appropriately and that it shows Brennan’s allegations to be unfounded.

    But the commissioner also said he regrets having sent the e-mail with the sexually explicit photos to 40 people and apologized to the board for it.

    Still Mattusch said he felt the commotion "makes a mockery of the #MeToo movement."

    Now that the investigation report is public it looks like the public will get to decide.

    NBC Bay Area has learned the board did not, and cannot, take actions against him because he's an elected official on a special board.

    “I don’t regret it," Brennan said. "I’m glad I did it, but it’s been a very painful process."

    The main action the board took was to release the investigation report publicly so the public can decide for itself.

    Get the latest from NBC Bay Area anywhere, anytime
    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android