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MTS board discusses sexual assault lawsuit against MTS and former chair Nathan Fletcher

In a 2-hour closed session meeting, board members agreed to hire outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The Metropolitan Transit System Board of Directors announced Thursday it would hire outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation into sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations made by a former MTS employee against former MTS Chair Nathan Fletcher.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Grecia Figueroa, a former MTS Public Information Officer, alleges Fletcher groped her on two occasions and pursued a sexual relationship with her for months, leading to her abrupt firing on February 6, the day Fletcher announced his state Senate candidacy. 

Fletcher admitted having an affair but denied the allegations of assault and harassment.

Thursday morning, acting MTS Board Chair Stephen Whitburn said the results of the independent investigation would be made public. He also said no one on the board knew about the allegations against Fletcher until the lawsuit was made public last week. 

A spokesperson for MTS told CBS 8 that no one on their executive management team knew about the allegations until last week.

However, CBS 8 obtained legal documents dated February 17 that show Fletcher and MTS Chief Human Resources Officer Jeff Stumbo were warned of the general nature of the allegations.

The document was from Figueroa's attorney instructing them to hold onto her employee records and files. Here's an excerpt from the file:

Preserve all documents, tangible things, and electronically stored information potentially relevant to:

• Ms. Figueroa's potential legal claims, including allegations that you: (1) discriminated against Ms. Figueroa; (2) sexually harassed Ms. Figueroa ; (3) sexually assaulted Ms. Figueroa; and (4) retaliated against Ms. Figueroa because she complained or otherwise protested against sexual harassment that was perpetrated against her.

Meanwhile, MTS Board Member Sean Elo-Rivera, president of the San Diego City Council, spoke to reporters Thursday.

His name came up in the lawsuit as someone Figueroa suspected may have known what was happening between her and Fletcher.

"I’m pissed, I’m disappointed, there's a lot of feelings I have, but I had no idea any of that was going on," said Elo-Rivera.

"I'll speak for myself. Based on what’s in [the lawsuit], there are allegations that while we were here doing our business, completely unacceptable things were happening. And that is incredibly enraging and disappointing and all of those things," he added.

According to Whitburn, there is no timeline for the independent investigation. He said the board wants it to be expeditious and thorough.

Fletcher announced on March 26 he was entering a treatment center for post-traumatic stress, trauma, and alcohol abuse, and he abandoned a planned run for state Senate.

He then announced his resignation from the Board of Supervisors last Wednesday night following the filing of the sexual assault lawsuit.

In a statement, Fletcher said he was resigning from the Board of Supervisors at the request of his wife, former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, to focus on his mental health.

"The strain on my wife and family over this past week has been immense and unbearable," Fletcher said. "A combination of my personal mistakes and false accusations has created a burden my family shouldn't bear. I will be resigning from the Board of Supervisors, effective at the end of my medical leave," Fletcher said in a statement.

First elected in 2018, Fletcher will officially resign from his District 4 seat at 5 p.m. on May 15. Fletcher also resigned as chair of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.

WATCH RELATED: Nathan Fletcher facing allegations of sexual misconduct from second woman (Mar 31, 2023)

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