Several Arroyo Grande police officers who responded to City Hall late on the evening of July 3 said they confronted two city employees who appeared to be “defensive and disheveled.”
One of the officers told his supervisor that he was concerned about a possible violation of city policy because Community Development Director Teresa McClish appeared to be holding a shirt or article of clothing in front of her while she was in City Manager Steve Adams’ office.
Adams, the officers said in written statements made after the incident, appeared unkempt, with his shirt partially untucked and his hair uncombed. Both also appeared sleepy.
The Tribune obtained the police officer statements from the city of Arroyo Grande on Thursday in response to a public records request made last week. The July 3 incident and the city’s response have infuriated some residents. At a City Council meeting last week, residents criticized the city’s investigation into the incident as inadequate and demanded another review to determine whether any laws or policies were broken.
None of the officers’ statements reported seeing Adams or McClish in an intimate situation, nor did they report that McClish was unclothed behind whatever article of clothing she was holding.
“Apart from saying she was holding something in front of her, they couldn’t say anything about what she was wearing,” Deputy City Attorney Michael McMahon, who investigated the incident at the council’s request, said Thursday. “She was wearing some sort of a wrap or something and that may have been what she was holding up.”
“None of the officers ever saw any conduct of a sexual nature,” he added.
The Tribune also requested a copy of any written correspondence from McMahon on the incident, but the city cited attorney-client privilege in not releasing it.
Adams and McClish later told McMahon that they had a few drinks at two restaurants in the Arroyo Grande Village on July 3 and were talking in Adams’ office to ensure they were safe to drive home.
McClish’s husband called police at about 11 p.m. after becoming worried that his wife had called him an hour before to say she was coming home soon but hadn’t arrived. He said he was concerned about her medically.
Four police officers initially responded to the call, where they found City Hall locked and McClish’s car in the parking lot with her cell phone and purse inside. Police Cmdr. Kevin McBride, who was at home at the time, also responded because he had a master key to City Hall.
McBride unlocked the door and was surprised that the alarm did not sound, he wrote in his statement. He and other officers said the interior lights appeared to be off.
Police Officer Zak Ayala, who checked numerous rooms in City Hall while calling out McClish’s name, was the first to see Adams, who came out of his office and walked down the hall toward the officer.
“His clothing appeared disarranged and his hair appeared to be mussed,” Ayala wrote. Adams appeared agitated and asked, “What are you doing here?” Ayala recalled.
Ayala said he initially mispronounced McClish’s first name as “Trish” rather than “Teresa.” That added to Adams’ confusion, McMahon said Thursday. But Ayala said he corrected himself and said the officers were looking for Teresa McClish.
“Adams seemed upset and asked why McClish would be at the building,” Ayala wrote.
Ayala explained that McClish’s husband had called police because she hadn’t shown up after calling to say she was leaving work.
Senior Officer Shane Day wrote that he saw Adams talking to Ayala and also asked if the city manager had seen McClish. Adams told Day that they had been to a restaurant opening across the street.
Day asked again if McClish was in the building as he started to walk into Adams’ office. Adams then said, yes, McClish was in his office.
Day said McClish “peeked her head from behind the door and appeared to be holding a shirt up to her chest ... she appeared to have been sleeping due to her hair being messed up and her eyes being droopy.”
Officer Stephen Doherty also came upon Ayala talking to Adams, whom he described as having “disheveled” hair and wearing a shirt “halfway tucked in.”
Doherty wrote that he saw McClish sitting on a chair in Adams’ office, “looking downward and appeared to be avoiding eye contact with officers.” Doherty did not describe her state of dress.
Officer Jeffrey Smith entered the building after the other officers and saw Adams in the hallway talking to them. Smith saw an open door into an office at the end of the hallway and could see “a female who seemed to be holding some sort of clothing to her chest.”
Once they determined there was no medical emergency, the officers left the building.
In his report, McBride said that once outside City Hall, Day said he was concerned about a possible violation of city policy because McClish “appeared to be partially clothed.”
McBride did not see McClish but saw Adams, who “appeared a little unkempt with his shirt partially untucked and his hair was uncombed.”
Neither Adams nor McClish could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon. In a previous interview, Adams said he wore his shirt untucked the entire evening. Adams also said in the earlier interview that he and McClish were very startled when they heard noises in the building, and that the lights in his office were on.
In the course of his investigation McMahon interviewed all five officers, as well as Adams and McClish, and determined that no city personnel regulations, contracts or laws had been violated.
He recommended the city not do a formal investigation; however, the City Council decided on Aug. 26 to schedule a special meeting to consider hiring an independent investigator to look into the matter. That meeting has not yet been held, but the discussion will likely take place at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
In a statement sent to The Tribune on Aug. 21, Adams said that he accepted responsibility for any negative reflection the incident has had on the city and said he recognized the situation “resulted in an appearance that could be easily misinterpreted.”
“However,” he wrote, “claims that have been published by another news source that we were found unclothed and involved in inappropriate sexual behavior are false, hurtful and have caused great pain for us and our families.”