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Former Lake County dispatchers file suit against county, Mendoza alleging discrimination

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Posted at 9:16 PM, Dec 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-18 23:16:33-05

DENVER — A lawsuit against Lake County alleging multiple violations was filed in Denver District Court Tuesday.

Former Lake County dispatchers, Maria Chavez, Chelsa Parsons, and Nicole Garner, are accusing former undersheriff Fernando Mendoza — along with the sheriff Rodney Fenske, 911 supervisor Mary Ann Hammer, and the board of county commissioners — of sex discrimination, retaliation, and violations of free speech and equal protection.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges Mendoza, 49, sexually harassed the three female dispatchers while at work. They are asking for an unspecified amount in damages.

Garner alleges Mendoza had repeatedly sent her lewd texts.

“I was sick at one point, and the undersheriff stated to me that I was sick from sucking too much d---,” she told Denver7 in November of last year.

And another time, when she was the victim in a domestic violence, Garner says Mendoza made comments to her about injuries to her body.

The lawsuit alleges Mendoza pulled Garner aside and showed her a picture of her lacerated breast, and then laughed and said he “got to see her boobs today.”

Mendoza is also accused of texting the women that he wished he was “ten years younger” or “much younger” so that he could “be with” them.

Chavez told Denver7 last year that Mendoza made similar comments about her age.

“He would make it about my body, about how the uniform looked on me, and how I always looked good,” Chavez said. “He wished I was younger.”

Mendoza’s alleged conduct was first reported by Denver7, and he was fired in November 2017 after the allegations came to light. The former dispatchers spoke out against Mendoza, which the lawsuit alleges caused retaliatory actions by the sheriff’s office.

The woman resigned shortly after the interview they did with Denver7. In the lawsuit, Garner states “[d]uring my employment with Lake County Sheriff’s Office I have endured a hostile work environment due to long term harassment and sexual harassment. I feel I have no choice, other than to resign.”

The lawsuit alleges that even after Garner resigned, she continued to receive threatening notes at her home calling her a “bitch” and a “whore.”

Mendoza was found guilty on Dec. 10 of attempted aggravated incest and attempted invasion of privacy charges. The 49-year-old is scheduled to sentenced Feb. 21.