February 25, 2021

INFRMER

KEEPING YOU INFRMED

California Republican lawmaker accused of rape by former legislative aid


A former legislative aide has filed a criminal complaint against Orange County Assemblyman Bill Brough, accusing him of raping her following a 2015 dinner meeting in Sacramento.

Patricia “Trish” Todd is at least the sixth woman to accuse Brough of sexual assault or harassment in the past 10 years. One civil investigation resulted in minor sanctions for Brough earlier this year.

Todd is the first to publicly claim Brough raped her. And she’s the first alleged victim known to have reported an attack both to the California Legislature’s Workplace Conduct Unit and to law enforcement in Sacramento County, saying she hopes to see Brough serve time in prison for an incident that she said left her contemplating suicide.

Brough, a Dana Point Republican who this year lost a bid for reelection in his south county district, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about Todd’s allegation. But the three-term assemblyman has denied the previously reported charges, claiming they were politically motivated.

Todd filed a criminal complaint against Brough on Monday and the Sacramento Police Department said it is investigating the claim.

Todd shared her story with the Register on Wednesday, detailing what she says happened that night and how dramatically her life has changed over the past five years. Though it is the Register’s policy to not name victims in alleged sexual assault cases, Todd said she wanted her name used.

Patricia Todd has filed a criminal complaint against Orange County Assemblyman Bill Brough, accusing him of raping her in 2015. She describes what happened to her in lawyer Michael Schroeder’s office in Orange on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Her husband, Michael Todd, looks we. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

A life interrupted

In spring 2015, Todd said she was a happy and confident woman who had won awards for her public speaking, volunteered at her church and ran 10 miles on the weekend, looking to be a good role model for her then-teenage daughter.

Todd had spent 13 years at the state capitol, working for two other state senators and the Senate Republican Caucus. At the time of the alleged attack, she’d worked for several months as deputy legislative director for state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

After the reported incident on July 7, 2015, Todd said she was left physically injured and alone. She battled depression. To survive, she felt forced to abandon the life she loved, selling the car where she says the attack took place, giving up on a career in politics and changing her name, which had previously been Patricia Lenkiewicz.

Todd said shame and fear of retaliation by Brough, who she says told her that he carried a concealed weapon, contributed to her hiding the alleged assault from all but a handful of people – three of whom she told soon after the attack.

“Would he show up at the house? Would he hurt my daughter? ” said Todd, who only told her now 22-year-old daughter about the attack Wednesday night. “You never know what someone is really going to do when they’re cornered. So it’s a fear that has been always there. ”

Today, Todd is rebuilding her life in Northern California. She returned to school to start a new career away from politics. She’s also remarried, with a supportive husband who sat by her side as she shared, at times through tears, why she’s finally coming forward to tell her story.

In this Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 photo, Assemblyman Bill Brough, R-Dana Point, is at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli)

Until this summer, when she read blog posts and a Register article about Brough, she didn’t know that other alleged victims had come forward over the past 18 months. She said reading those reports, and learning she wasn’t alone, made her want to speak out.

“If something had escalated to my level, there has to be more. There have to be other women out there who are too scared, that are staying in the shadows, that don’t want to come forward or can’t come forward, ”she said.

“They need to. And if I have to come out and be the catalyst for them to do that, this is the time to do it because it’s necessary. I’ve survived this for five years, and five years is too long to have to not have the help and support and to deal with this on a day-in and day-out basis. ”

Attacked in her car

Todd said she first met Brough around June 2015 at a fundraiser. She hadn’t heard any rumors about him, or had any misgivings, at the time.

In the criminal complaint, Todd said she was walking down a corridor of the State Capitol on July 7, 2015, when she came across Brough for the second time. She says Brough asked if she was happy working in Moorlach’s office and she told him yes, but that she was looking for a committee secretary position. Brough told her he might know of one and invited her to dinner that night to discuss it. She said she would and agreed to pick him up.

Todd said Brough smelled like alcohol when he got in her car at around 6:15 pm – a common theme in complaints made against the assemblyman. The report says Brough then asked Todd to drive to the Elephant Bar restaurant.

Over dinner, Todd says Brough told her he was forming the California Irish Legislative Caucus and that she could be the secretary. He promised the job would mean going on an annual trip to Ireland. Then, per the complaint, he said there could be “other perks” as well. When she questioned that comment, Todd says Brough winked and said, “You know.” Todd says she told Brough that wouldn’t happen, reminding him they were both married. And she said she quickly ended the dinner, noting Brough had several drinks.

As Todd drove Brough home, he asked her to pull over. She didn’t know what was wrong, and says now that she doesn’t know why she agreed. But she said he’d had a lot to drink. And there’s a big leap between hitting on someone and attacking them, noted Todd’s attorney Mike Schroeder, who’s the former chair of the California Republican Party. Todd insists she still didn’t think in that moment that a sitting politician would harm her.

After she followed Brough’s directions and pulled into an empty parking lot, she said Brough attacked her. She says he pinned her down on the center console of her Honda CR-V and raped her as she repeatedly screamed for him to stop.

“I could not move and at one point I could not breathe,” she wrote in the complaint. “I was hoarse from screaming.”

After, she said Brough was silent other than asking her to drop him off at another bar.

As she drove to her home in Elk Grove, Todd said she contemplated killing herself by veering off the road. She said she was bleeding and threw a blue makeup towel she’d used to clean up out of her car window. When she got home, she said she scrubbed herself in a shower until the water turned cold.

Michael Todd begs reporters to hold Orange County Assemblyman Bill Brough accountable for allegedly raping his wife, Patricia Todd, right, in 2015. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

The aftermath

Todd said she went to work the rest of that week, even as bruises developed on her arms, legs, left hip and right hand. She said a friend, who is an attorney, encouraged her to take photos of the injuries. She shared those photos with the Register.

That friend also urged Todd to go to a doctor, since she was still dealing with bleeding and bruising. Todd that followed advice and tested negative for any sexually transmitted disease. She has told investigators about those dated medical records.

Todd said she later told her direct supervisor at the time, Moorlach’s chief of staff Tim Clark, about the alleged assault. She says Clark urged her not to report it to anyone.

Clark doesn’t dispute that Todd told him about the incident. But he insists he urged Todd to get help and to contact an attorney. He said he also asked for legal guidance without giving Todd’s name, since he says she asked him not to tell anyone.

Their boss, Moorlach, has said he was not told in 2015 about the alleged incident.

Todd continued to work for Moorlach, but spent the next year dodging Brough in hallways at the capitol. If any materials needed to go to Brough’s office, Todd said she had interns deliver them.

But after she confided in Clark, Todd says her role on Moorlach’s staff was diminished. She quit her post in August 2016, and currently doesn’t work in politics.

String of complaints

The first known complaint about allegedly inappropriate behavior by Brough came from county Supervisor Lisa Bartlett in 2011.

Bartlett was serving with Brough on the Dana Point City Council at the time. She filed a complaint with the city claiming that, as a political event at a local hotel restaurant ended, Brough grabbed her shoulders and wouldn’t let go, trying to steer her out a side door. She said she was afraid and wiggled free, then ran to get help.

The city attorney investigated, but wrote in a memo at the time that he “did not have sufficient facts or evidence to come to any conclusions.”

That incident became public at a Republican Party of Orange County meeting in June 2019, when Bartlett made an emotional plea for the party not to endorse Brough’s reelection campaign.

After Bartlett came forward, four other women shared other stories about Brough. Two of them initially wanted their names kept confidential, but Brough outed them in a widely circulated email defending himself to GOP officials.

One of those women is legislative staffer Heather Baez. She filed a sexual harassment complaint against Brough with the Assembly in 2017 after she said Brough made “unwanted advances” for years, including “extremely offensive and non-consensual physical contact.”

The state investigated Baez’s complaint but told her in 2018 that they couldn’t determine Brough had violated Assembly policy.

In 2019, former legislative helps Jenniffer Rodriguez filed a complaint against Brough with the Workplace Conduct Unit, formed amid the #MeToo movement to investigate sexual harassment complaints against California legislators. Rodriguez said Brough told her in a 2015 meeting that he’d been watching her and that he could help her politically if she went home with him.

The Workplace Conduct Unit concluded in May that Brough made unwanted sexual advances, including offering political favors in exchange for sex. Brough was stripped of his committee assignments and required to take harassment training.

Another woman, Laguna Beach real estate agent Maria Elena Banks, told the Register in 2019 that Brough had five years earlier put his hand along her skirt line and asked if he could go home with her. And an unnamed Democratic activist told the Los Angeles Times that Brough had made unwanted contact and briefly blocked her from leaving a bar after a 2018 lobbying event in Sacramento.


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