I have served as a volunteer activist since 1980, giving my time and legal services to conservative and Republican causes that I believe in. I recently decided to “retire” from my volunteer work. Then a very brave woman named Trish Todd, who I had never met before, reached out to me last November and asked me to help her.
She told me a gut wrenching story about being severely beaten, raped, and sodomized by then Assemblyman Bill Brough in 2015, while working for then-state Sen. John Moorlach. She also told me that she had reported it to Moorlach’s then-Chief of Staff, Tim Clark, who she says told her to keep silent. Clark claims Todd, his subordinate, told him to remain silent but admits he was told about the rape and did not report it. Clark omits that Brough’s campaign paid him over $40,000 in 2016, after he failed to report the rape.
I am not naive. I was aware that this case would be high profile and politically charged. Moorlach had already declared his intention to run in the county supervisor’s special election. There was simply no way that this case would not become caught up in that election given that one of the central questions was whether Moorlach and Clark covered-up the rape after it was reported to Clark?
In two editorials, The Register has questioned my motives for representing Ms. Todd. Ms. Todd was very clear with me as to her motives: “Brough should go to prison for what he did to me and Moorlach and Clark should be held accountable for silencing me.”
The Register, in one editorial framed me as a “long time Orange County political operative” and in a column, Steven Greenhut claimed that “[Schroeder] shops around the idea that Moorlach can’t be trusted.” Greenhut goes on to complain that “Schroeder is blowing smoke on a side issue. He claims Moorlach tried to smear Todd during a meeting with this newspaper.”
Not fair or true. I have made no public statements about Moorlach. I merely pointed out verbally to the editorial board that Moorlach falsely claimed when he first heard about the rape of my client. Moorlach first claimed that he had not heard anything about the rape of his employee until last Election Day, November 3, 2020. He also claimed he believed the victim and he would fight passionately in any case where he encountered sexual assault. He was forced to admit that, in fact, months earlier, he had discussed the matter with former Sen. Dick Ackerman and later claimed he forgot being told something so monumental.
Moorlach also claimed on the record that he did not support hiring Ms. Todd and that she had performance issues as documented in her confidential personnel file. I am told that Moorlach then claimed to have been talked into hiring her. In response to this smear, Ms. Todd authorized me to publicly release Ms. Todd’s entire personnel file. Again, the file tells a different story, reflecting no such doubts. In her file was a letter written and signed by Moorlach when he hired her lauding her skills and referring to her as his “de facto Deputy Chief of Staff.” When Ms. Todd finished her service, John Moorlach issued and signed an official California State Senate Resolution praising and thanking her for her service. This would very much seem to contradict Moorlach again.
Ms. Todd did file a gender discrimination complaint to the Senate Rules Committee at the end of her employment alleging that Moorlach did not promote or give raises to women. In response, the Rules Committee turned down her claim and stated that Ms. Todd had allegedly not let some members into an event at the Outdoor Caucus. Ms. Todd disputes that.
Yet, the editorial suggests that in raising questions, “justice is taking a back seat to politics”.
What every reader needs to consider is if you had to face these types of attacks on your honesty, professional abilities, and ethics to report a rape or represent to a rape victim, would you do it?
Michael Schroeder was chairman of the California Republican Party and represents Trish Todd.
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