By Gina Yarbrough
San Diego, CA–County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is being accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by a former MTS employee who filed a complaint against him, and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System on Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff, 34-year-old Grecia Figueroa, who worked as a public relations specialist at MTS for four years before her termination on February 6, alleged that Fletcher, Chairman of the Board of Directors for MTS, stalked her and sent sexual harassment messages to her Instagram account. Figueroa alleges also that MTS terminated her employment because she was sexually harassed by Fletcher.
The complaint stated that MTS was liable ‘because they knew, or should have known, of the sexual harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.’
Fletcher, out of state seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress, trauma, and alcohol abuse, resigned on Tuesday as chair of the MTS Board of Directors. He also ended his bid for State Senate to focus on his health.
In response to the lawsuit, Fletcher, through his attorney, Danielle Hultenius Moore, released a statement admitting to an extra-marital affair but claimed it was a consensual interaction. He also denied Figueroa’s claim of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
“Last year, I made a terrible mistake engaging in consensual interactions with someone outside my marriage. I made it clear it could not continue or advance and desperately hoped I could leave this mistake in my past. However, this individual and an attorney demanded millions of dollars from me and my family with the threat of not only embarrassment but a willingness to lie about the circumstances and nature of the interactions.”
Fletcher is married to former CA Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.
According to the complaint, beginning around May 2021, Figueroa noticed that Fletcher was frequently viewing her personal Instagram account. He did not officially “follow” her on social media, nor did he openly “like” or “comment” on her posts at that time. That same month, she began receiving notifications that Fletcher was viewing content on her profile. He was “lurking” in the common parlance of social media activity.
Around that same time, Figueroa also noticed Fletcher paying closer attention to her during MTS board meetings and news conferences. He sometimes stared or smiled at her where she sat, which was usually in the back of the room, beyond the cameras and the audience. Figueroa found it odd because, other than Fletcher spending so much time on her Instagram account, the two barely knew each other, the complaint stated.
Around November 2021, Fletcher approached Figueroa before taking the stage at an MTS event and – for the first time – directly contacted her by simply asking, “How you been?” Figueroa found the comment odd because it seemed to imply that she and Fletcher were old acquaintances, when, in reality, they had never really interacted, the complaint stated.
According to the complaint, on February 14, 2022, following a press conference, after most attendees had left the event, Fletcher approached Figueroa in the parking lot, wrapped his arm around her shoulder (without her consent), and commented on one of her recent social media posts.
Immediately after their interaction, Fletcher sent Figueroa a private, direct message through Instagram, saying, “Nice to see you!” Figueroa responded to Fletcher with a simple, “Nice to see you too. Have a great day,” the complaint states.
On February 28, 2022, Fletcher allegedly sent Figueroa a private DM that read, “Home alone – no wife and kids.” Then, on March 7, 2022, he sent a message that read, “I have another very rare Monday night with no wife or kids. I get bored with nothing to do…” And on the evening of May 2, 2022, he sent a series of messages which included, “I just got home … all amped up from class and energy from students … And all home alone tonight,” the complaint states.
According to the complaint, Fletcher and his family were living at a hotel in downtown San Diego while repairs were being made to their home. Fletcher’s wife, Lorena, spent much of her time in Sacramento and other cities throughout California, at which times Fletcher often stayed in San Diego. On May 2, 2022, Fletcher began to solicit Figueroa to meet with him outside of work but insisted that she keep it very “discreet.”
On May 12, 2022, Fletcher asked Figueroa to visit him at his hotel. He told her that his wife was out of town, he would only be in the hotel for another two weeks, and he wanted to see her before he moved back into his house. He told her that he had put his two children to bed for the night, that he was “feeling a bit impulsive”, and that he wanted her to join him for a drink at his hotel. He convinced her to visit him but asked that she come after 10 p.m. because that’s when his security guards would be off-duty. “And please make sure you delete our chats!, the complaint states.
According to the complaint, when Figueroa arrived at the hotel, Fletcher met her outside and instructed her to follow him through the lobby to the elevators – separately, and from a distance – because “all the staff here know me.” She did as he instructed. Fletcher then took her to the 16th floor of the hotel and led her down the hallway to an emergency stairwell. Once in the stairwell, Fletcher quickly asked to kiss Figueroa, but she rejected his advance, pointing out that he was married and she had no intention of having anything more than a conversation. Fletcher then confessed to stalking her Instagram account and obsessing over her for at least a year. He said he had a crush on her, and he encouraged her to have a few drinks so they could continue talking. Shocked and confused, but feeling powerless in front of Fletcher, she reluctantly agreed to stay. Over the next 2-3 hours, Fletcher continued to make advances towards her, until eventually, near the end of the night, he put his hands on her and kissed her. Unsure of what she was getting into, Figueroa soon insisted that they stop and she went home around 2 a.m.
On June 9, 2022, during an MTS Executive Committee meeting, Fletcher messaged Ms. Figueroa while she was sitting in the audience. He told her to meet him in an adjacent conference room when the meeting was over because “I have five minutes.” When she got to the room, Fletcher asked her to close the door. He then put his mouth against hers and began to grab her breasts through her clothes. Figueroa pushed him back because she was not comfortable having this type of encounter with him, especially at MTS headquarters, while coworkers and managers were immediately outside the door. Fletcher assured her that “no one will bother us in here,” but she felt shocked and uncomfortable and soon left the room, the complaint states.
Figueroa claimed in the lawsuit that Fletcher messaged her from his phone on December 1, 2022, during an MTS Executive Committee meeting. He asked her to “come say hi” and to meet him in the adjacent conference room after the event. When Figueroa arrived at the room, Fletcher asked her to close the door and then sexually assaulted her a second time.
On February 6, Fletcher announced his candidacy for a seat in the California State Senate. Later that day, Figueroa claimed she was unexpectedly called into a closed-door meeting with the MTS Chief Human Resources Officer, Jeff Stumbo, and abruptly fired. Figueroa alleged that she received no warning and no opportunity to speak with her supervisor or anyone at MTS, and she was required to leave immediately without gathering any of her personal belongings. the complaint states.
Fletcher has denied the allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
“I have not done the things they are alleging, but I did violate the basic trust and loyalty to my marriage, and set a terrible example for our children. Lorena and I have already started to work through this, and that work must continue after I complete treatment for trauma and alcohol abuse. My wife has done nothing but loves me completely and without reservation, and the blame for allowing myself to be in this situation rests entirely on my shoulders. I will spend my life working to repair the damage done to my family,” Fletcher stated in a news release.