Former SVPD officer files another complaint against City
Disgruntled former Scotts Valley Police Department officer David Ball has launched a new lawsuit against the city of Scotts Valley Police Chief Steve Walpole, Jr. and his former intern Pascale Wowak, citing defamation and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
This is the third lawsuit that Ball, who was forcibly removed for allegedly sexually harassing and retaliating against Wowak, has brought in Santa Cruz County Superior Court against the city following his dismissal.
Scotts Valley City attorney Kirsten Powell said on Wednesday the city had yet to receive a copy of the new lawsuit, which was filed on Dec. 14, so it could not comment on it.
Wowak did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Ball also filed a so-called “warrant assignment,” which is an attempted force reinstatement, as well as a claim for damages for age discrimination and for having suffered a “hostile work environment. “.
But documents from court records show authorities determined it was Ball who created a toxic workplace by sexually harassing Wowak on multiple occasions and then enlisted teammates to try to get the new police officer fired.
In a September 13, 2019 termination letter written by Walpole (to take effect September 27, 2019), Ball was charged with sex discrimination against Wowak.
“You subjected Officer Wowak to an unwelcome solicitation of sex, which she rejected,” Walpole wrote. âDuring her field training, you indicated a romantic or sexual interest in her by saying, ‘I’d better never get drunk with you, that would be dangerous. I’m not sure I can control myself.
Through his lawyer, Ball denied this.
âBall is adamant that he has never shown romantic or sexual interest in Wowak,â said Neil Berman, of Salinas-based Rucka, O’Boyle, Lombardo & McKenna.
Wowak had joined in early April 2018. She had already obtained a settlement in a class action lawsuit for sex discrimination against the Department of Public Safety in Sunnyvale – for an amount of $ 1.95 million – where she was employed as officer.
Based on Ball’s own recommendation, Wowak completed his field training faster than usual and was placed on his squad, according to the disciplinary letter, which said Ball would text Wowak on his day off. leave to tell her that he “missed her” and was “thinking about her.”
In at least one text, he sent a “Morning Sunshine” message, according to the letter.
Then, in late August, Ball told Wowak his wife discovered their text messages and was upset, according to the document.
“You then told Agent Wowak twice that if you had gotten nude photos of her it would have been worth it,” Walpole wrote. “Agent Wowak responded to you by telling you unequivocally that she had no intention of providing you with nude photos or having any other sexual relations with you.”
Suddenly, Wowak got a poor job performance grade at the end of September, which caused him to burst into tears, according to the disciplinary letter.
Ball again gave her a “poor performance” rating for October 2018, then attempted to have her fired at a staff meeting that month, Walpole wrote.
âIn particular, prior to the September 2018 performance review, you did not create any documents regarding performance gaps or violations of Officer Wowak’s policy,â he wrote, adding that Wowak had been reassigned to the sergeant. Brandon Polito’s team around early November, he was reassigned again in January 2019. âThe evidence shows that you had approached both Sgt. Polito and Sgt. Milroy, separately, to discuss your expectations that they are having issues with her performance, that these issues be documented, and that her employment be terminated while she is still on probation.
Polito declined to comment on Ball and Wowak’s relationship, or if Ball asked him to help get rid of her.
Through his lawyer, Ball denied asking Wowak to send him nude photos.
âHe never solicited nude photos of Wowak,â Berman said, saying Wowak would initiate text conversations more frequently than he would, including after negative performance reports.
The termination letter adds that Ball enlisted three additional officers to make derogatory and demeaning comments about Wowak, including that his lawsuit against Sunnyvale DPS was “BS”.
Ball says it never happened.
And he argues that several elected officials, including long-time former SVPD officer Donna Lind, who is now mayor and has served on city council for years, should have recused themselves from considering the city manager’s final decision to fire him. .
âAs all members of council do, they have an obligation to be impartial,â said City Attorney Powell. âShe decided she could look at the facts apart from her relationship with the chief of police and the sergeant. Ball â Mr. Ball now.
However, Randy Johnson recused himself on apparent medical grounds, while Derek Timm recused due to a conflict of interest related to his previous work as a lawyer.
Lind told the Press banner that Ball did not object to her making a decision on the case.
âI worked with Dave Ball for most of his career,â she said. “I have spent my career evaluating the evidence.”
Wowak is still employed with the Scotts Valley Police Department.