Hanford

Top investigator alleges sex harassment by Kings Co. DA, Fagundes dismisses claims as “falsities”

The now-former top investigator at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office has leveled a complaint denoting repeated instances of sexual harassment by his superior, Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes, dating back to 2018.

The complaint, filed on July 6 by attorneys for former Chief District Attorney Investigator Robert Waggle alleges that Fagundes made repeated sexual advances, engaged in sexual harassment of the 10-year DA’s office veteran following his divorce three years ago.

In an administrative complaint filed with Kings County and California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Waggle alleged that a pattern of sexual advances and harassment began when Fagundes offered a rent-free apartment to Waggle near his home.

Kings County administration and multiple Kings County Supervisors declined to comment on the matter.

Waggle, according to the complaint, repeatedly offered to pay rent, which was denied.

“Fagundes refused to accept payment, stating instead that: ‘You [Claimant] just being here is enough for me,” the complaint reads. “While Claimant was initially thankful for this assistance, Claimant was unaware of the ‘strings’ that would be attached to the situation.”

Fagundes, through his Visalia-based lawyer Maggie Melo, denied Waggle’s claim of attempted payment, stating that Waggle never offered to make a rent payment on the property.

Waggle claimed he was repeatedly touched by the District Attorney in a “sexual manner” and faced sexual comments about his body and clothing.

During the course of the alleged harassment, Waggle claims to have saved roughly 5,000 text messages from his boss featuring sexual remarks, memes, and photos.

Waggle and Fagundes, pictured with Kings County District Attorney’s Office staff in 2017

He also claimed that Fagundes requested and demanded the messages be deleted from his device.

Among the litany of claims was an alleged text message sent by Fagundes to Waggle featuring a picture of an ad that read “Massage – 60 minute massage includes head $20,” referring to fellatio.

The act is something which would be charged as a violation of California Penal Code section 647(b), the state’s prostitution statute.

Shortly after his divorce, Waggle began a dating relationship with Fagundes’ secretary. Fagundes eventually probed his secretary with questions about her sexual relationship with Waggle, the complaint alleges.

In 2019, Waggle claims to have moved out of the Fagundes-owned apartment.

“When Claimant was moving into his new home, Fagundes came over and, when touring the home, Fagundes looked at the area where the bed would be placed in the master bedroom and stated: “I am going to imprint on you right now. I want you to envision me standing here while you are f*cking [Jane Doe].”

Other instances of unwanted remarks include repeated discussions of male ejaculation, including the benefits of eating pineapples which – the complaint alleges – “Fagundes stated that eating pineapples would make male ejaculation… taste sweeter…”

Other lurid allegations in the complaint included the Kings County top cop texting Waggle the details of sexual exploits with his own wife.

The final allegation made by Waggle tied to the sexual harassment was that Fagundes told him that he “loved” him.

Fagundes – first elected to serve as Kings County’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer in 2014 – and his wife have been married for 26 years, they have two children.

Waggle’s complaint also notes that Fagundes regularly referenced so-called “blackmail folders” that he maintained on “everybody,” including his top investigator.

In the complaint, Waggle noted he was worried over potential retaliation both from Fagundes in his position as District Attorney and his father, Richard Fagundes, a Kings County Supervisor, if he attempted to complain about or resist Fagundes’ behavior.

In March, following roughly three years of alleged sexual harassment and amid a dispute over official duties, Waggle stated he sought a voluntary demotion to become “Computer Forensics Specialist.”

Fagundes, per the complaint, denied the request.

“It’s not good for the office,” the complaint alleges Fagundes told Waggle. “If I did allow it, it would only been because of our personal relationship, and that’s not there.”

Waggle’s attorneys claim that Fagundes’ conditioning of a demotion to maintaining the relationship as a quid pro quo.

Waggle was diagnosed by Kings County’s qualified medical examiner with post traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder. His attorneys allege it is a direct result of Fagundes’ conduct.

On March 24, Waggle was placed on leave and is now seeking medical retirement from Kings County.

Due to the triggering of medical retirement, Waggle argues that he will receive a sizable, 30 percent cut in retirement benefits compared to if he continued in service.

His attorneys peg the damages at more than $1 million.

Fagundes “shocked” by claims from Chief of Investigations

Speaking to The Sun on Thursday evening, Fagundes denied sexually harassing his chief investigator, whom he repeatedly described as a good friend, and noted that he was unaware of problems prior to the July 6 filing of a claim.

“First of all, I’ve never sexually touched a man, but if I did he should have reported it at the time,” Fagundes said. “Somebody else would know and nobody else seemed to report this to me.”

He and Melo said that the vast bulk of claims are devoid of context or are greatly exaggerated.

“It’s riddled with falsities that are largely taken out of context and misconstrued to the Nth degree,” Fagundes said. “Were there off-color things said? Of course there were. That’s what two people who’ve known each other for 15 years and hang out and drink beer do.” 

“I was as shocked as you are when I see some of the information he’s willing to put in there all to get a claim.”

Fagundes’ lawyer, Melo, noted that a shift in their relationship materialized when Fagundes requested Waggle move out of Fagundes’ apartment.

“There seems to have been a shift and the claimant went from being Keith’s best friend and, apparently, started becoming upset that he wasn’t able to live off of Keith anymore,” she said.

Melo argued that the two engaged in text conversation featuring “crude banter.”

“Keith always considered this guy a close, personal friend and as part of that friendship they exchanged text messages and some of those text messages had some colorful language and some crude banter in them,” Melo said. “Keith sent some crude banter his way and the claimant sent equivalent materials back at Keith.”

Fagundes and Melo argue that the timing of the claim was aimed at inflicting the greatest political punishment on Fagundes and capturing the greatest financial gain for the former investigator.

“He now has determined that the way to get a payout is to gather these lawyers from LA and make these fictional allegations that are preposterous in nature,” Melo said. “Keith was going to be announcing his bid for reelection very shortly and the timing on this is such that this guy is hoping to have a huge payout by putting Keith on the defensive so close to his bid for reelection.”

Fagundes told The Sun he remains committed to his plans to run for reelection in 2022.

For the two-term District Attorney, the claims waged by Waggle have forced some drastic reflection.

“Obviously, to go back in time I wouldn’t trust him in the manner I did. 

Under California’s government code, Kings County officials have 45 days to investigate and act upon Waggle’s claim.

Melo told The Sun that Fagundes intends to cooperate with whatever investigation is conducted by the County relative to the claim.

If county officials reject the claim, Waggle may file a suit against Kings County.

Read the claim

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.