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Letters released detailing nude photo offense at former Palm Desert city manager's house

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Documents have been released detailing the incident that rocked Palm Desert City Hall and lead to the city manager's resignation from his post earlier this year.

KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 obtained two documents the city released to the media, describing the complaints against then City Manger John Wohlmuth.

Read Palm Desert's statement about Wohlmuth investigation

In the letters to the Human Resources Department, two employees stated they were shown a nude photo of a fellow employee, which Wohlmuth said he photographed.

Read Employee Complaint Letter 1

Read Employee Complaint Letter 2

The employee was apparently swimming naked in Wohlmuth's pool on March 17 after watching March Madness basketball games. In the letters, both employees stated that Wohlmuth said all city employees 'need to see this photo'.

In a statement released by Palm Desert City Attorney Robert Hargreaves, "several staff members reported being offended by being shown nude photos of a coworker.  Human resources were notified and Mr. Wohlmuth was asked to cease the conduct."  Hargreaves also says that on the next Business day, March 21st, he asked Wohlmuth to voluntarily leave City Hall pending direction of the Palm Desert City Council.

The city attorney stated that he was working with the employment law firm of Liebert Cassidy and Whitmore to address the reported incident.  They in turn hired an outside attorney investigator from the firm Creason and Aarvig to conduct a confidential investigation.

During that time, Wohlmuth's resignation was accepted by the council on April 14th.  On July 29th, the city attorney received the investigation report and findings which Hargreaves stated is protected by the attorney-client and work product privilege.

The statement went on to read that "the city strongly values and seeks to nurture a workplace that is free of harassment and all forms of discriminatory behavior. From the time employees first reported the photograph incident of March 18th, 2016 to the Human Resources Department, the City of Palm Desert began taking meaningful steps to isolate and mitigate any potential damage caused by Mr. Wohlmuth's inappropriate actions. Since Mr. Wohlmuth's departure, the city has continued to act to minimize the chance of inappropriate behavior in the workplace by employees at any and all levels of the organization."

Officials said some of the steps will be creating an employee hotline to allow staff to confidentially report inappropriate behavior; reviewing city policies regarding appropriate workplace behavior; harassment and discrimination training.



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