Yolo County Sheriff Withdraws Re-Election Bid Following Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

YOLO COUNTY -- The long-standing Sheriff of Yolo County announced Monday he is withdrawing his re-election bid.

“This morning, I spoke to my staff and I said, 'Today is a good day for big Ed Prieto,'” said Sheriff Ed Prieto.

Prieto said he plans to finish his fifth term as sheriff and retire at the end of the year, wrapping up 50 years in local law enforcement.

"I don’t want to go and put my family through a contentious campaign where my wife and my five daughters or myself are going to be ridiculed,” Prieto told FOX40.

The announcement comes about a month after the county settled a federal sexual harassment lawsuit for $98,000. In it, a former female deputy accused Prieto of creating a hostile work environment by giving unwanted hugs and kisses.

Prieto was ultimately dismissed from that case.

He was also accused in another 2015 sexual harassment lawsuit and a racial discrimination lawsuit. Both of those cases were dismissed as well.

Prieto said those lawsuits had nothing to do with his departure.

“His opinions seemed to be that he didn’t have anything to do with any of this,” said John L. Jackson, who is now running for sheriff. "And for all of us who live in the county, we don’t see it that way.”

Jackson said he spent 31 years working for the Department of Corrections. He’s lived in Woodland for 20 years, the entire time Prieto has been the sheriff of Yolo County.

He credits the lawsuits and a 2014 grand jury report that found nepotism and intimidation at the sheriff's office as his inspiration for running for sheriff.

“I wanna be a more user-friendly sheriff,” Jackson said. "When it comes to me that that’s happening, I will deal with it swiftly.”

Also in the running is current Yolo County Undersheriff Tom Lopez. His campaign website says, “Right now our reputation does not reflect the genuine commitment shared by our staff, and has damaged trust within our community. I’m running to be your next sheriff to restore that trust."

But Prieto said he’s proud of the legacy he’ll leave behind. “We made tremendous changes in 20 years.”