SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian's appointment of controversial veteran corrections official Joseph Campoy as warden of Folsom Prison narrowly cleared the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday night amid charges and denials that he tolerated sexual harassment of female guards.
The Democrat-dominated committee agreed on a 3-1 vote to recommend to the full Senate that Campoy be confirmed as chief administrator of what is widely regarded as the state's toughest lockup for hard-core criminals.
Democrat Sen. Henry Mello of Watsonville joined with Republican Sens. William Craven of Oceanside and John Doolittle of Citrus Heights to endorse Campoy. Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) voted against the recommendation and Sen. Nicholas Petris (D-Oakland) abstained.
The nomination of the up-from-the-ranks former prison guard had been mired in controversy for two weeks while the state Personnel Board investigated allegations including sexual harassment of women guards and favoritism for those who "go along to get along."
Campoy, who during his 39 years at the prison worked his way up from guard to chief deputy warden before his appointment as warden last year, drew support at the six-hour hearing from six female guards, most of whom were married to Folsom Prison employees.
They denied that sexual harassment of women is a major problem and indicated that they had never been sexually harassed.
Their testimony contradicted allegations two weeks ago by several former women guards and others who are on leave, who stunned the committee with charges that sexual harassment by male guards is commonplace and that promotions often depend on the granting of sexual favors.
Campoy's supporters, however, testified that if a sexual harassment complaint was made, it routinely was resolved by a guard's supervisor and never came to Campoy's attention. One suggested that alleged victims sought such attention.
"I think (women) have encouraged it," said Pat Stafford, a guard at Folsom for four years, adding that one woman who complained to the committee would arrive at work with her blouse unbuttoned.
Aware of 2 Cases
For his part, Campoy indicated that he knew of only two cases of sexual harassment and said he was unaware of two others cited by the Personnel Board. In an opening statement, he told the committee that, in line with state government policy, "I don't condone or tolerate sexual harassment."
Roberti said later: "I just don't believe you can be in the prison (as long as Campoy has been) and not know of the sexual harassment situation."
In a report of its investigation, the Personnel Board said sexual harassment "clearly exists" at the prison, although most staff members interviewed "indicate that they have accommodated to the environment so they are not offended or that, when protested, the offensive language or behavior stops."