MODESTO -- The Salvation Army has reassigned and is disciplining Capt. Michael Paugh, who oversaw its Stanislaus County operations, after an investigation concluded that he had harassed a female employee.
Paugh and his wife, Maj. Beth Paugh, were reassigned this month to The Salvation Army's Torrance Corps in Southern California.
The employee made a sexual harassment claim against Paugh in mid-December and the army brought in an independent investigator. The investigation was completed in mid-January and confirmed some of the employee's allegations, said Laine Hendricks, the public relations director of the army's Golden State Division, which includes Stanislaus County.
Hendricks did not know the nature of the allegations and which ones the investigation confirmed.
Paugh, 52, could not be reached for comment Monday.
"The Salvation Army took disciplinary action by moving the officer couple to a new post in Southern California with less responsibility, where the officer can receive training, counseling, coaching and observation to assess whether the officer is ready for continued leadership," Hendricks said in an email.
"The officer will be closely monitored and not serve in a leadership capacity until The Salvation Army is confident this behavior will not happen again," Hendricks added.
She said the army would not release the names of the employee and the officer who was accused to respect their privacy rights. However, she acknowledged that the Paughs are the only Modesto husband-and-wife officers to be reassigned since the employee complained.
Paugh served as the Modesto Citadel Corps officer and Stanislaus County coordinator for 18 months. The Paughs' last day in Modesto was March 3.
Hendricks said this was the first complaint against the officer in his nearly 13 years with the army.
Kept quiet at employee's request
Salvation Army officials told The Bee last week that Paugh was not being reassigned because of misconduct or other problems. Hendricks said Monday officials did that to honor the wishes of the female employee, who, Hendricks said, did not want the matter to become public.
"I understand how this can be perceived," Hendricks said. "It may not have been our first choice, but to respect the privacy of the employee, we chose not to come forward."
Hendricks said the woman continues to work for The Salvation Army. She added that after the woman complained, the army restricted the officer's contact with her. The army required all Modesto supervisors to attend sexual harassment training.
The army conducts such training every few years, but Hendricks said the training was conducted recently as a precaution and to ensure "everyone is on the same page."
During his tenure in Modesto, Paugh worked on collaborating with other social service and nonprofit agencies. For instance, he expressed interest in exploring a partnership between The Salvation Army and Modesto Gospel Mission to open the first day center for the homeless in the city.
A day center would provide the homeless with a safe place to go where they could access services and keep them from becoming a nuisance in public spaces.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.