Hanford

Reporter files complaint against Hanford councilman over inappropriate comments

A Hanford Sentinel reporter is alleging she was the subject of ‘inappropriate’ comments amid an interview with embattled Hanford City Councilman Art Brieno, according to a complaint.

Brieno, who nearly resigned from office amid an on-going personnel claim waged by former Hanford development director Darlene Mata, is alleged to have made comments about the appearance of Hanford Sentinel reporter Rayvn Cullor.

News of the complaint was first reported by Mark Prater of the Visalia-Hanford-Lemoore Future.

Cullor was interviewing Brieno at Hanford’s Hidden Valley Park. Asked by Briano why she, a Colorado State alum, moved to the region, Cullor informed her that she moved because her boyfriend is serving in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

“I have to say, you are a very attractive young woman. Your boyfriend is lucky. You must have a sister who is…” Brieno is alleged to have said, per the complaint.

Brieno told the pub that the comments were taken out of context and subsequently had additional conversations with Cullor about his comments.

In her complaint, Cullor added that Brieno’s references to her sister, who turned 18 of late, made her “particularly uncomfortable.”

Cullor opted to file a complaint rather than a story on the incident, noting it allowed her “to process the interaction and be rightfully upset, because I no longer had to maintain my own objectivity in the situation.”

She noted that the comment was made in a complementary fashion rather than malicious, but felt that any comment about her appearance by an elected official was inappropriate.

“Women, especially young women, are constantly having their value in professional spaces measured, partly or wholly, by their appearance,” the complaint reads.

“Mr. Brieno said he would make a similar comment to a man, that he seemed healthy or that he must work out,” the complaint continued. “It seems clear to me, though, that a comment on a woman’s inherent appearance and one on a man’s health regiment are very different.”

With three sensitivity training sessions, mandated as part of the on-going legal battle with Mata, under his belt, Brieno noted the key lesson he’s taken away as a new harassment issue arises:

“It’s what they (the person who is offended) perceive” that matters, he told the paper.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.