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Dispatchers reach $875,000 settlement

Lake County Government will pay former Lake County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers Nicole Garner, Chelsa Parsons and Maria Chavez $875,000 to settle the women’s civil lawsuit. The settlement comes over two years after the dispatchers first accused former Undersheriff Fernando Mendoza of sexually harassing them.

The lawsuit contends that Mendoza, as well as former Sheriff Rod Fenske, routinely exposed Garner, Parsons and Chavez to sexual comments, jokes, texts and touching. The women also say they faced retaliation from members of Fenske’s administration after going public with their stories.

All three of the dispatchers resigned from LCSO during 2017 and 2018; each identified harassment and retaliation as their reasons for leaving. Garner and Chavez were rehired by Sheriff Amy Reyes in 2019 and Chavez still works for the office.

Mendoza, on the other hand, was fired shortly after the women brought their allegations to the media. A few weeks later, the former undersheriff was arrested. Mendoza is now serving a 15-month prison sentence for attempted incest and invasion of privacy for sexual gratification in regard to his former stepdaughter.

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