Opinion

Top women to CalPERS candidate: Drop out, we don’t want an accused harasser

Hear 3 women accuse CalPERS board candidate of leering at them

JJ Jelincic has been an influential force for years within CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the United States. He is currently running for the CalPERS board. In 2011, three women accused Jelincic of leering at them in the workplace.
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JJ Jelincic has been an influential force for years within CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the United States. He is currently running for the CalPERS board. In 2011, three women accused Jelincic of leering at them in the workplace.

The state treasurer of California, a state senator and another woman serving on the CalPERS board have called on J.J. Jelincic Jr., a former board member who is running again, to drop out of the race because of his history of harassing women who work at the Sacramento-based pension fund.

In a letter to Jelincic and obtained by The Bee, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, State Sen. Connie M. Leyva and CalPERS Vice President Theresa Taylor wrote: “You (Jelincic) were accused by three different women, all lower level administrative staffers at the time, of ‘leering at them; of making inappropriate comments about them; of making juvenile noises that school boys make as girls walk by.’

“State Personnel Board Administrative Law Judge Teri L. Block heard consistent accounts from your accusers. The judge found that a penalty of formal reprimand was just and proper...The CalPERS board officially reprimanded you in 2011 for sexually harassing three CalPERS employees. Now after a brief retirement from the CalPERS board, you are running for a seat on the board chosen by CalPERS retirees.

“We call on you to withdraw from the current election for the CalPERS board.” Of the three women, Ma and Taylor currently serve on the CalPERS board.

Jelincic, 70, was not immediately available to comment about the letter. But in an interview with The Bee last week, he acknowledged that he praised the shoes of one of his accusers. Despite Block’s 2011 ruling against him, he continued to deny all other charges against him.

By doing so, Jelincic is saying his accusers were making up the bulk of the allegations that led to the reprimand against him.

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In last week’s interview, and in previous interviews with The Bee, Jelincic has chalked up these issues to politics, because he was a board member at the same time he was an investment officer for CalPERS. He claims his troubles are because CalPERS managers didn’t like him.

But a review of the 2011 hearing in which his accusers spoke tells a different story. The Bee is not naming the women because they wish to be anonymous.

In 2011, they faced Jelincic and told Block that Jelincic had made their work lives deeply uncomfortable.

One woman said: “He would make this sound (when she walked by him).” She made a sizzling sound, indicating that she was hot.

“I was shocked.” she said. “I was like, ‘Did that really just happen?’”

Another woman said: ““It was very deliberate. Very obvious.”

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“He was making me feel very insignificant. Very demeaned,” she said. “It was very disrespectful. Very uncomfortable and unpleasant. This was in 2010. I was still on probation (as a new employee at CalPERS). I didn’t want to make waves. I didn’t want to be viewed as a trouble maker. I just wanted the behavior to stop.”

The women said Jelincic would repeatedly make comments about their appearance. He would look up them up and down slowly and deliberately.

One woman said he would catch him leering at her. Another said Jelincic would call her over to his work space to show her something but it would soon become clear that he had just wished to look at her.

Under oath, the three women all said that all they wanted was for the behavior to stop. These incidents occurred before the current #MeToo movement. One of Jelincic’s accusers told The Bee that she felt he got a slap on the wrist for his actions.

He was re-elected to the board two years after the 2011 hearing, which got scant media coverage at the time.

Ma, Taylor and Leyva, who is chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, calling on Jelincic to step aside is further proof that times have changed.

But Jelincic hasn’t.

Open letter to J.J. Jelincic

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Marcos Breton writes commentary and opinion columns about the Sacramento region, California and the United States. He’s been a California newspaperman for more than 30 years. He’s a graduate of San Jose State University, a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the proud son of Mexican immigrants.
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