Former San Diego MTS Employee Claims She Was Fired For Refusing To Lie About Nathan Fletcher Scandal & Hack Into Accuser's Private Account

March 19, 2024

The former Chief Information Officer for San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System has made legal claims alleging she was retaliated against for refusing to assist in a cover up of disgraced former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher's sexual assault and harassment allegations.

In a lawsuit filed earlier today, Emily Outlaw, former Chief Information Officer of MTS, alleges that she was placed on administrative leave and denied a pay raise after uncovering evidence that a senior MTS executive knew about sexual harassment allegations against former chair of the MTS Board of Directors and disgraced former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher long before news broke last year. It is further alleged that MTS Chief Operating Officer Sharon Cooney retaliated against Outlaw after she refused to direct employees to hack into the private messaging application of Fletcher accuser, Grecia Figueroa.

It is claimed that in April 2023, following the filing of a lawsuit against Fletcher and the MTS, Outlaw was tasked with looking into Figueroa's allegations of sexual abuse against Nathan Fletcher. Although MTS officials claimed to not have any forewarning of the relationship prior to the March 2023 lawsuit, Outlaw found that the agency was made aware almost two months prior. 

"This press release was false," states the lawsuit filed by Outlaw. "The MTS, through its Chief Human Resources Officer, Jeff Stumbo, had actually learned about Figueroa's claims around February 17, 2023, through an email with an attached letter from Figuerora's lawyer to him."

At the time, Stumbo claimed the email from Figueroa's lawyer was directed into his spam folder, but Outlaw discovered that was not true and it was opened on the day it was received. The email was also purportedly forwarded to an outside law firm that worked for the MTS. 

Outlaw was then directed to request the company's IT department attempt to access Figueroa's private Japper app messaging account, which she refused. Following her refusal, Outlaw received a negative job performance review, failed to receive a customary cost of living raise, and was finally placed on administrative leave in December 2023. 

Earlier this year, the MTS paid approximately $120,000 of taxpayer funds to private firm Oppenheimer Investigations Group to conduct an investigation into the MTS firing of Grecia Figueroa. The outside investigation concluded that nobody at San Diego Metropolitan Transit System knew about any improper relationship between former board chair Nathan Fletcher and a public relations specialist before she was fired last year.

This past January, a University of California San Diego professor, Juli Beth Hinds, filed a tort claim (precursor to a lawsuit) containing allegations that former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher engaged in retaliation against her after she reported a sexual harassment claim to university administrators in April 2023. 

According to the claim, Hinds, a UC San Diego lecturer of Urban Studies, contends that Fletcher, along with county staff, abruptly terminated contracts that her consulting firm had with the county shortly after she reported Fletcher's alleged sexual harassment of one of her students. Fletcher was a "Professor of Practice," the first of such a title, at UCSD from 2013 until 2023. A "Professor of Practice" is a position given to a person with experience in a field but without the necessary education resume to become a professor.

The government tort claim, which is a necessary precursor to a lawsuit, details the sequence of events following separate allegations by Metropolitan Transit System employee Grecia Figueroa. Figueroa claimed that Fletcher sexually harassed and assaulted her multiple times during his tenure as the chair of the transit system's board of directors. Her lawsuit against Fletcher and Metropolitan Transit officials allege that her termination was an attempt to silence her about Fletcher's actions.

Hinds recounts that on April 7, 2023, just over a week after Figueroa filed her lawsuit, she approached UC San Diego's Office of Student Disability Services to report a student's disclosure during her office hours about what the claim describes as Fletcher's "harassing conduct." Following the administrator's advice, Hinds then submitted an official Title IX complaint, with the understanding that any reports concerning Fletcher would be directed to the UCSD Director. Shortly thereafter, on the same day, Hinds received an email from a different UC San Diego administrator, requesting the name of the student who reported the harassment and confirmation that it was Fletcher who allegedly harassed her.

In the days following Hinds' report, she states that Fletcher and the county took steps to quietly terminate two contracts her outside consulting business had with the county. Hinds contends this sequence of events is likely retaliation against her for coming forward with new sexual harassment allegations against Fletcher.

On Sunday, March 26, 2023, then-San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher made a shocking announcement that he would be entering rehab to address PTSD and alcohol-related issues, as well as would drop his campaign for California State Senate. Then on the following Tuesday, March 28, Fletcher quietly resigned from his position as chairman of the board of San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).

The following day, we at SanDiegoVille broke the news that Fletcher and the San Diego MTS were both being sued by former MTS Public Relations Specialist Grecia Figueroa for Sexual Harassment, Failure to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Retaliation, Sexual Assault and Battery, and Whistleblower Retaliation. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that Fletcher's wife, former California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, joined her husband in threatening to sue Ms. Figueroa for extortion. Gonzalez has since denied any contact with Ms. Figueroa or her attorney.

After the news of the lawsuit broke, Fletcher released a statement admitting to a "terrible mistake engaging in consensual interactions" but claimed the allegations in the lawsuit to be false. Later in the day on Wednesday, March 29, following back-and-forth between SanDiegoVille's staffers and Nathan Fletcher's office about our impending story of an additional woman, a former UCSD student, coming forward accusing Fletcher of sexual misconduct while she was an intern for his non-profit, Nathan Fletcher announced his impending resignation from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, to be effective on May 15, 2023.

In early April 2023, less than one week from the time Fletcher announced his shocking rehab stint, Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher posted a since-deleted tweet that many thought was tone-deaf and possibly indicative of an intention to leave her disgraced husband. Fletcher's first accuser, Grecia Figueroa, also published a blog post touching on multiple subjects likely related to her accusations against the former San Diego County Supervisor.

Nathan Fletcher has long since resigned from his position on the County Board of Supervisors and has not been heard from since returning from his alleged rehab stint. His professor page was also removed from University of California San Diego website.