San Mateo County Harbor Official Alleges Sexual Harassment

A longtime commissioner of the San Mateo County Harbor District has filed a sexual harassment claim against the current commission president and several past members.

The complaint is based on alleged incidents spread out over months and years, but Commissioner Sabrina Brennan said the time is right to finally speak up. She is accusing commission President Tom Mattusch of sexual harassment.

She said several years ago, Mattusch, then a commission president candidate, invited her on a hunting trip and later sent her what she called "pornographic" pictures.

"I was expecting an apology and some sort of promise that this would never happen again," Brennan said. "I mean, I think that's what I was really looking for was some acknowledgement that 'you're right, I shouldn't have done that, that was inappropriate.'"

Instead, Brennan said, the situation got worse because, in her view, after Mattusch became president, he has stripped her of key committee memberships and essentially demoted her.

"What resulted from that rejection was retaliation, and that has really undermined my ability to do my job as a commissioner," Brennan said.

Brennan was praised in a Half Moon Bay Review editorial for bringing the possible problem out in the open. And, Brennan said Thursday she was told the district will investigate her complaint.

Mattusch said he is limited in what he can say about what he called a "manufactured" complaint. He adamantly denied ever inviting Brennan on a trip or sending any photos of any kind. He also said Brennan was demoted for "lapses in judgement" and said he's confident the district investigation will back up his side of the story.

The San Mateo County Harbor Commission is mostly known for its involvement with the Mavericks Big Wave Surf Contest as well as environmental and fishing industry issues.

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