Former city employees accuse San Bernardino mayor of sexual harassment, illegal finance activity

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Two former female employees of the city of San Bernardino are accusing the mayor of sexual harassment and illegal financial activity.

Karen Cervantes and Mirna Cisneros, who both worked in different departments under Mayor John Valdivia, resigned last week. In addition, they're accusing Valdivia of failing to report contributions and using city time and resources to raise campaign funds.

"He would talk about his sexual escapades and desires in front of me and others," Cervantes said in a statement. "After reporting the Mayor's inappropriate behavior and being told that because he was an elected official nothing would be done, I knew I had no choice but to take legal action and resign from my position."

Cisneros also claims that she endured "countless inappropriate acts of harassment," including an incident where Valdivia allegedly offered her his credit card and offered to conceal it from his wife.

The issues came up during a City Council meeting Wednesday, when another former city employee, Treasure Ortiz, claimed the city "allowed this to happen."

The accusations also come a few months after a complaint was filed against the mayor by former City Manager Andrea Miller who claimed harassment, discrimination and whistleblower retaliation, among other negotiations. Miller says she was terminated last May after she filed the complaint.

"These allegations are false, politically-driven and interrupt representative democracy," the mayor said in a written statement. "This is a personnel matter with an investigation currently underway, as such, I will have no further comment until the completion of the investigation."

Based on digital evidence, witness accounts and numerous text messages, attorneys representing Cisneros and Cervantes believe there may be other victims who have yet to come forward. The two accusers say they will be filing a claim against the city next which could open the door for a potential lawsuit.
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