LA Daily News, Editorial: Cash Cow: County Pays Up after Cult Harassment - Santeria

22 Mar 2001
LA Daily News
March 22, 2001

What do a cow's tongue, a secret settlement, no criminal charges and a payoff spell? Government at its absolute worst.

Los Angeles County officials this week demonstrated an appalling lack of accountability, management integrity and acknowledgement of the public's right to know all the facts in disturbing charges brought by two county employees.

The facts are these. Two Los Angeles County employees filed a lawsuit charging that they were victims of religious harassment after complaining that their supervisor gave preferential treatment to members of the Santeria religious group, an Afro-Caribbean religion that melds Catholic practices with non-Christian beliefs.

Shortly after making those complaints, Julie Scheuer and Kathryn Sierra came to work to find a bloody cow's tongue hanging outside their Lancaster welfare office. It is considered a ritual act of the Santeria religion.

Instead of openness and a thorough investigation, the Los Angeles County Claims Board approved an $85,000 payoff and forced the two whom complained about the harassment to keep quiet,

So there was enough evidence to warrant paying out $85,000 to Sheuer and Sierra, but not enough evidence to fire or even punish the guilty parties, who are also county employees. Sheriff's investigators apparently didn't pursue the probe far enough to find out who did it.

Talk about absurdity.

The public has a right to know whether religious cults are running county offices and harassing county employees. That includes a thorough investgation.

The government belongs to us, not them, and officials should live by the same rules as the rest of us.



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