MODESTO — Former Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Chief Steve Mayotte was suspended and demoted for not less than 20 infractions, some of a grave nature, and spent nearly nine months on paid administrative leave before retiring in mid-December, according to court papers in four lawsuits against the district, one of them brought by Mayotte.
The other three were filed by current or former employees accusing Mayotte of sexual harassment, sexual favoritism, age discrimination and firing a woman who refused his command to alter documents and who would not wear an apron and cook for him as his second wife, court papers say.
The lawsuits say Mayotte used sexual vulgarities to belittle a worker, pestered underlings with sexual fantasies, screamed profanities at a female employee, bullied an older firefighter, shredded documents, leaked confidential information and lied to fire board members.
Mayotte had a history of discipline which he conveniently kept out of his personnel file one of the many infractions supporting the discipline, reads one briefing filed by the fire boards attorney.
The former chief did not return calls placed to his Turlock home.
He turned 50 a week before retiring but had not worked at the district since being placed on administrative leave in early February, during which time he collected about $75,000.
Mayottes lawsuit says he was not afforded due process. He wants a judge to block the demotion, which reduced his retirement pay.
Details have been scant since he ceased working in February. The fire boards attorney refused most of The Modesto Bees request for information under the California Public Records Act, saying the agencys communication with lawyers is confidential and preserving its ability to defend lawsuits outweighs the publics right to know whats going on.
Also, attorneys on both sides of Mayottes lawsuit asked to hide from public view the fire boards investigations of Mayotte and other relevant documents, and Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Hurl Johnson agreed in November to seal the records.
But documents not sealed in the four lawsuits shed light on circumstances surrounding the departure of Mayotte, whose firefighters had stung him with a vote of no confidence in 2010, five years after he took over the department.
Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District covers Riverbank, where its headquarters are located, as well as Waterford, south Modestos Beard Industrial District, Empire, Hickman and La Grange. It also manages the Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District and Oakdale Fire Department, although that city recently backed away from a proposed merger with Stanislaus Consolidated Fire.
The agency, a product of a 1995 merger of several small departments, recently has been under the leadership of interim Fire Chief Brian Kelly. The fire board has met in closed session in recent weeks to discuss recruitment and a Dec. 9 agenda cited selection of final candidate for district fire chief, but no announcement has been made.
A court hearing in Mayottes lawsuit is scheduled for next week, while trial dates for the other three are set for June and July.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390. Bee staff writer Kevin Valine contributed to this report.