A single mother wept Friday while testifying that she and her children were reduced to homelessness after being forced to leave her job as a Stanislaus County sheriff's clerk.
The county's attorney later pointed to inconsistencies in Lydia Lopez's stories, told since 2007 to investigators, during a pretrial deposition and on the stand Friday.
Lopez said she downplayed her stress upon learning that her then-husband had joined the Norteño street gang, saying "it was more of a disappointment."
Sheriff Adam Christianson could be called to the witness stand next week, a lawyer said.
Lopez, 36, took the witness stand for a second day in a trial concerning claims of sexual harassment against a superior and the county. She said she suffered severe retaliation after reporting that Bill Pooley, an undercover drug agent who since has been promoted to police chief in Riverbank, tried to seduce her on the job in 2004 and 2006.
On Friday, Lopez said Pooley, who is married, leered and made comments about her legs; she testified Thursday that he put her hand to his crotch and asked for sex. He denies those incidents, his attorney says.
Lopez said intimidation kept her from immediately reporting the harassment to the drug unit leader.
"I was scared," she testified, saying she feared managers would not take her word over that of Pooley, who was climbing the ranks and apparently had relatives in law enforcement. "I needed my job. I didn't want any trouble. I'm a clerk, just started working there, and I didn't think people would listen or believe me."
Sheriff's administrators used the pretext of "regular rotation" to move her from the drug unit, Lopez said. They later released a list of seven reassigned clerks, including two who had died, two who left when positions were eliminated in budget cuts and one who took another position, she said.
She couldn't pay rent after quitting in the fall of 2007, said Lopez, who has two children. She said between sobs: "We jumped from house to house. We stayed wherever we could. We put everything in the car and whoever would let us stay with them, we would stay there, the three of us."
Later Friday, attorney Morin Jacob, representing Pooley and the county, pointed to many differences in versions of the stories Lopez has provided. For example, Lopez testified Friday to having felt Pooley's "male gender" during the alleged Christmas Eve 2004 incident, but said before that she felt only fabric. She also changed which of her hands was involved and could not explain why she didn't previously complain about lewd comments.
Lopez insisted that her memory was more accurate Friday, after having reviewed notes, than it was in an interview with investigators in 2007 or during a deposition in 2008.
Jacob has said Lopez found confidential information about her husband's fellow gang members on the day she gained access to a restricted database. Paul Lopez is serving a prison sentence of 27 years to life. She had "been with him since I was 13," Lydia Lopez testified.
She seeks "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in the lawsuit, which is among five legal challenges faced recently by the Sheriff's Department, all brought by current or former female employees.
Lopez is expected to continue testifying when court resumes Tuesday morning in Department 23 at 801 10th St.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2390.