There are new allegations of sexual misconduct against Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Two former interns working under Johnson told HBO in a show that aired Tuesday night he made unwanted sexual advances toward them.
The accusations were made by women on the latest episode of the HBO series Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.
Three women spoke publicly for the first time about conduct they say was inappropriate while they were interns or employees working under Johnson.
Xian Thao was an 18-year-old intern for Johnson's St. HOPE non-profit, in 2007. She told Real Sports that Johnson asked to meet her at her apartment to review her work. Once inside, she says, he walked into her bedroom and laid down.
As she sat down on the edge of the bed, Thao says, "He leaned down behind me, like the letter 'C' and then at some point, I felt his hand on my side, he made contact with my skin on my hip bone, underneath my shirt, and I stood up and said 'I’m done.' And I think I went and did dishes or something and I came back in and he was still lying down on the bed."
Amanda Thomas was Thao's roommate and found him sleeping on their couch the next morning. Thomas says she remembered thinking it was "gross."
At the time, Thomas told HBO, she hadn’t spoken to her roommate about having a similar experience with Johnson. But she says he made advances toward her at a St. Hope outing a few months earlier.
“I had gotten this new, sort of collegiate-looking skirt, and I remember sitting next to him, and he just flipped the edge of the skirt up, and then he put his hand on my thigh,” she told Real Sports. "I don’t know why I didn’t freak out or push his hand away. I think there’s also a part of me that was terrified that if I make a big scene, no one’s going to believe me.”
Thao says she complained to a St. HOPE manager but was pressured to remain silent by the attorney representing Johnson and St. HOPE , Kevin Hiestand.
"He just pulled me aside and said, 'Can we speak for a moment? I'm here as a friend, not as a lawyer,' " she told HBO. "He basically made me feel like I shouldn't talk to anyone else about it."
Capital Public Radio asked Johnson’s office for comment on the HBO report, but has yet to recieve a statement.
His office did release one to Real Sports. It states the allegations were "long ago thoroughly investigated by the authorities," that "there were no charges" and Johnson would, going forward, "make better judgments ... so as not to be in situations that anyone can even perceive to be other that upstanding."
Real Sports also repeated the story of a Sacramento High School student who told teacher Erik Jones that Johnson had fondled her. Jones says Hiestand and two administrators took the girl to her mother's business and persuaded her to recant the story before the police were called.
The Sacramento Police Department found no evidence of wrongdoing in the matter.
The third woman to speak publicly for the first time was Kim Curry-Evans, a former Johnson employee in Phoenix who moved to Sacramento with Johnson to run his 40 Acres Art Gallery in Oak Park.
Curry-Evans told HBO she initially didn't believe any of the rumors or allegations, even though she was the victim of a sexual assault as a young girl.
"He was such a committed man to his faith and his church and his family and it was a very difficult thing to reconcile," she says.
One of the allegations Curry-Evans found unbelievable was from Mandi Koba, who says she was 16 when Johnson touched her inappropriately in a shower in his Phoenix home. Koba alleged Johnson touched her other times in subsequent months. Although she did not respond to repeated media requests over the years - including during Johnson’s 2008 mayoral race - she began speaking publicly in recent months despite admitting that she signed a non-disclosure agreement. She repeated her allegations to Real Sports and maintains Johnson paid her $230,000 in exchange for her silence. She says she still has some of the canceled checks.
Curry-Evans says she continued to believe Johnson was incapable of anything improper -- until 2009. That's when she says she discovered another incident involving Johnson.
She has never discussed the details of the case or said who the girl is.
Curry-Evans says once she discovered what was happening, she resigned from the 40 Acres Art Gallery and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. She alluded to the incident in an email, acquired by sacramentopress.com in which she stated: "I have recently received information regarding St. HOPE founder Kevin Johnson’s personal behavior and actions that make me unable to continue working for St. HOPE. I have pursued St. HOPE’s and the 40 Acres Art Gallery’s missions with passion but I cannot continue that passion given my new knowledge."
Curry-Evans says she soon received a visit from Johnson's attorney, Kevin Hiestand. "I realized this must be the machine that's getting ready to kick in for me," she told HBO.
Later in the program, Curry-Evans made an emotional apology to Koba, Thomas and Thao.
"I want to be one of those to say to her I'm sorry for not believing your story when it happened in Phoenix, I'm sorry because we should have listened to you," says Curry-Evans. "I wish I had been there for Amanda; I wish I had been there for Xian. We should have been there for them and we were not. I will take that to my grave."
In October of 2015, ESPN responded to Koba's first published interview on the allegations with Deadspin by canceling the world debut of a documentary on Johnson’s efforts to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle.
Johnson had an opportunity at a local showing of the documentary to refute the allegations while being interviewed by Sacramento-area media.
Some of the questions include:
Q: [Koba] says you paid her $230,000 to keep her quiet. Is that true? And did you ever touch her inappropriately?
Johnson: I think it's very clear that there's no there, there. This is a story that's been investigated time and time again. It goes back 20 years. That's been a reality, it's unfortunate that stories like this continue to come forward.
He was also asked about Koba’s assertion to the website Deadspin that the settlement agreement is in a safety deposit box in Arizona and that both Johnson and her attorneys must be present for the box to be opened.
Johnson: I don't know if it's true. I don't know. And it doesn't behoove me to speak on behalf of anybody else ... this person or anybody else.
Q: You don't know if the document is in the safety deposit box?
Johnson: I don't know what's... I don't know what she's referring to ...I don't know what anybody's referring to.
Johnson has often made the claim over the years the allegations have been politically motivated.
“Politics is a dirty game," he said in October. "You have to take hits on the chin. We’ll do that.”
Asked about Johnson's comments, Curry-Evans responded with anger.
"Shame on you Kevin, this is not a f*** fist on the chin," she says during the interview. "This is you not owning up to who you really are and being honest with yourself and with those young ladies. So, shame on you."
Johnson announced in October that he would not seek re-election. He said the allegations against him had nothing to do with that decision.
Timeline Of Events - Allegations Against Mayor Kevin Johnson:
1996 - A teen, then 16 years old, reports alleged abused to the Phoenix Police Department. The abuse allegedly took place in 1995. Johnson was never charged.
2007 - St. Hope teacher reports possible abuse. Charges against Johnson were never filed.
August 2008 - Office of Inspector General sends report and referral for criminal and/or civil prosecution against Johnson. The report includes a report of alleged sexual misconduct against Johnson.
November 2008 - Johnson elected as Mayor of Sacramento.
2009 - Kim Curry-Evans resigns from her position at Johnson’s 40 Acres Art Gallery in Oak Park and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.
June 2012 - Johnson re-elected as Mayor of Sacramento.
May 2013 - Kings decide to stay in Sacramento.
May 2014 - Sacramento downtown arena approved by the city council.
April 2015 - Sex harassment complaint filed against Johnson. Investigation completed in May.
September 2015 - Alleged victim Mandi Koba speaks to Deadspin for the first time.
October 2015 - Johnson announces he would not seek re-election.
March 2016 - HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel airs program diving into the allegations against Johnson.
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