Former BPD Chief Greg Williamson testifies in sexual harassment case

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Greg Williamson, file image

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Former Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson said Thursday a woman officer fired in 2015 was terminated for failing her probationary term — and for no other reason.

The firing of Hillary Bjorneboe had nothing to do with her being a woman or her claims of sexual harassment by her field training officer, Williamson testified. Her firing was not retaliatory, he said.

Williamson’s testimony comes about two weeks into a sexual harassment and wrongful termination trial against the BPD. Bjorneboe alleges she was called “gay,” told she was supposed to sleep with her training officers and subjected to other harassment by supervisors.

The former chief testified the department conducted a criminal investigation into Bjorneboe and submitted its findings to the Kern County District Attorney’s office. Prosecutors did not file charges, but Bjorneboe was placed on the “Brady list,” which contains the names of officers whose credibility could be impeached at trial due to past issues of misconduct or untruthfulness.

Williamson said the District Attorney’s office did not consult him regarding its decision and he had not requested Bjorneboe be placed on the list.

Under cross-examination, Williamson testified he knew Bjorneboe had “some challenge” with her field training officer, and had raised concerns over alleged harassment.

According to her lawsuit, Bjorneboe complained to a sergeant about her treatment at the department. She said nothing was done.

A few weeks into her employment, Bjorneboe has said, her training officer, Travis Brewer, directed her not to book marijuana she confiscated during a call. She said she followed his instructions but later told a sergeant about what happened.

Internal Affairs and criminal investigations followed.

The suit said Bjorneboe was cleared of misconduct in January 2015 and reinstated to her position, but nine days later fired under the official reason that she didn’t pass probation.

Bjorneboe has said a veteran officer told her she was actually fired because of her claims of misconduct and sexual harassment. 

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