SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The San Francisco Sheriff's Department told KTVU Friday its investigators have scheduled interviews on allegations that deputies forced inmates to fight each other at County Jail #4 under threats of beatings or sexual assault.
"The Sheriff is taking this very seriously," said Sheriff's Department Assistant Legal Counsel Mark Nicco. "The deputies have been scheduled to be interviewed, and... not only the inmates, but the witnesses have also started their schedule to be interviewed."
Targeted in the investigation are Deputies Evan Staehly, Eugene Jones, Clifford Chiba and Scott Neu.
Neu is alleged by inmates Ricardo Garcia and Stanley Harris to have been the ringleader.
Oakland attorney Adante Pointer in 2009 won a civil settlement from the City of San Francisco on claims Neu sexually assaulted a female inmate and two other inmates who identify as female.
"It's disappointing to hear that he's still in a position to do the things that he's been accused of doing," said Pointer. "They had alleged Deputy Neu took them into areas of the jail where he was not properly supervised and forced them to perform sexual acts on him."
Police oversight and practices consultant Barbara Attard said Neu's civil case raises questions about how the department disciplines deputies.
"That should be a fireable offense," said Attard. "It's very troubling that someone with that past history would still be in the department in any capacity, especially supervising inmates."
The deputies are on administrative leave with pay. Nicco said the civil case may factor into the new investigation, but cautioned against a rush to judgment.
"Just because there was a settlement doesn't necessarily mean that the facts support a termination or a suspension or discipline of any kind," said Neu.
"We can't jump to conclusions in this case. They are, at this point, allegations... that are being taken seriously, but the Sheriff does have to maintain the deputies' due process rights."