A custodian testified Friday that he was on vacation Christmas Eve 2004 and did not interrupt a drug agent's alleged sexual advance toward a female sheriff's clerk.
Stanislaus County sheriff's management verified janitor Chrisanto Martinez's claim of a day off, Sheriff's Capt. Tim David testified Friday.
Martinez never saw Bill Pooley touch Lydia Lopez or make inappropriate sexual comments, Martinez said. In fact, he said he never saw them alone together.
Lopez testified three weeks ago that Martinez walked into the room and exchanged greetings just after Pooley put his hands on her hips, suggested having sex in the office and put her hand to his crotch.
Pooley was promoted to sergeant and then to chief of police in Riverbank, which contracts for law enforcement with the county.
Lopez, 36, is seeking "hundreds of thousands of dollars" for sexual harassment and retaliation for being punished repeatedly and forced to quit after reporting sexual harassment by Pooley, her lawyer said.
But defense economics expert Jerald Udinsky told jurors Lopez's financial loss was less than $4,000, because she should have been able to find a new clerical job within a month. She was unemployed nine months, worked two short-lived jobs and hasn't worked again since November.
Lopez's attorney, Jeffery Hubins, pointed out Udinsky's survey of available jobs was centered in San Francisco, not Stanislaus County.
Under Hubins' questioning, Pooley agreed that he failed to mention to internal affairs investigators that he went to his aunt's house for dinner the day Lopez claimed she was harassed.
Pooley testified Thursday that he was nowhere near the drug unit, where he previously worked with Lopez, having been assigned to patrol two weeks before the alleged groping incident.
Also Friday, Modesto police Capt. Michael Harris acknowledged that he and Pooley went through a police academy together as young men, but said they were not friends. Harris was assigned to investigate Lopez's sexual harassment claims against Pooley, who was cleared, Da- vid said Friday.
Hubins indicated that investigators were driven to destroy Lopez's credibility rather than establish whether she doctored timecards or was victimized by managers eager to protect one of their own — Pooley.
Investigators, for example, were urged to find out whether Lopez's husband, a Norteño gang member serving a prison term of 27 years to life, had fathered their two children and how many times she had visited him in county jail. They also looked at her relationship with a man after she separated from her husband in 2004, according to testimony.
Other deputies were assigned to monitor Lopez's telephone calls and her comings and goings, David acknowledged. They apparently checked her home to verify whether she might be performing activities not consistent with being sick, David said.
Two jurors have asked about Lopez's initial written claim that she suffered racial discrimination. Lawyers on both sides said heritage has nothing to do with the current lawsuit.
Testimony from six final defense witnesses is expected to conclude when the trial resumes Tuesday.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2390.