The captain of the sheriff's Malibu-Lost Hills station is under investigation for allegedly sexually harassing a subordinate, but the official strongly denied the allegations.
The Los Angeles Times reported on its website today that Capt. Joseph Stephen Jr. will resign in the midst of the investigation into claims by a female deputy who is on leave, without pay, because of unrelated felony vandalism and misdemeanor battery charges.
The newspaper's web site reported that Stephen resigned, but the department's spokesman disputed that in an interview with City News Service.
On Friday, Stephen told The Times that the woman's allegations were "absolutely, unequivocally" untrue, but declined to say if he had a sexual relationship with the deputy. "I don't want to get into that," The Times quoted him as saying.
Stephen also told the newspaper he never directly supervised the female deputy, whose name was not published, The Times said. "She's trying to save her own skin." Stephen was quoted as saying to The Times. "She's trying to lash out and see what sticks.
Adding to the situation is that the female deputy who made the claim is the daughter of a top aide to Sheriff Lee Baca, The Times reported. Citing common journalism ethics policies that protect those who allege sexual harassment, The Times did not print her name.
The newspaper reported on its web site later today that Stephen had decided to quit.
But the sheriff's spokesman refuted that. "That was an inaccurate report," Steve Whitmore, spokesman for sheriff Lee Baca, told City News Service at midday.
"That's one of his options. He has not decided what to do," Whitmore told CNS. "He is still a captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department."
Stephen did confirm to The Times on Friday that he was one of the targets of the probe and had been questioned by investigators Friday. He denied any wrongdoing.
The deputy female reportedly alleges that she was coerced into sexual relationships by Stephen, retired Chief Ronnie Williams and recently-retired Capt. Anthony Ward. The Sheriff's Department is investigating the deputy's allegations, and Stephan and Williams vigorously contest the claims.
Ward could not be reached by the newspaper.
Stephen comes from a family of officers, most notably his father, Joseph Stephen Sr., who retired in 1990 and served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for 30 years, according to a Calabasas Patch profile of Stephen published in 2010.
Stephen started as a lieutenant with the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff Station in 2005 and assumed command in January of 2010, succeeding Capt. Tom Martin.
"I'm at the back end of my career. It will be 26 years this month, and it has been a wonderful experience," Stephen told Patch after being asked in 2010 what was next for him.