Ex-Luna leader faces bias claim

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By David Giuliani

The director of the Luna Community College Foundation has filed a discrimination complaint against the school’s former interim president, Gilbert Sena.

Sena is the second former Luna leader now facing a sexual harassment claim. His predecessor, Leroy “Huero” Sanchez, is also the target of a complaint.

Foundation Director Diana Abeyta, whose last day is today, submitted the grievance to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 19.

In the complaint, Abeyta, who has been the foundation’s director since 2002, states that she filed a complaint in May 2007 that Sena was “constantly propositioning me for sexual favors.”

She said after she reported the matter, he subjected her to harassment in July 2007 and that in October 2007, he tried to speak with her at a non-school function.

“I got away because I was afraid of him,” Abeyta states in the complaint.

The EEOC hasn’t taken any action on the grievance.

There are two listings in the phone book for Gilbert Sena in the Valley, where Sena lives. No one answered either number late last week.

Two weeks ago, Abeyta submitted a one-sentence letter stating her intention to resign.

That letter was sent five days after Luna’s then-interim president, Sigfredo Maestas, informed a majority of foundation board members that he was removing them because their terms had expired.

Abeyta has said she had no idea the letters were going out and that it would have been “courteous” if Maestas had notified her about the decision.

In late May 2007, Sena was placed on paid leave. That was shortly after the complaint was filed.

At the time, then-Luna attorney Jesus Lopez said an inquiry was under way in connection with Sena.

Sena’s contract as interim president expired June 30, 2007, and it wasn’t renewed, with the Board of Trustees appointing Maestas in his place.

Last October, the trustees approved a $30,000 contract for Sena to prepare an interim report to the North Central Association, which evaluates colleges.

The board also approved paying $5,000 of Sena’s legal bills in return for his giving up any possible claims he may have had against the college. He had not filed any lawsuit against the college.

Sanchez appears to have experienced the same situation as Sena. With a harassment complaint filed, Sanchez left suddenly as president just eight months before Sena’s departure. He resigned immediately after a one-hour closed session with the trustees.

In her EEOC complaint, Charlene Ortiz-Cordova, Luna’s former academic director, alleged that Sanchez had touched her and made inappropriate comments to her between October 2005 and April 2006.

She filed her complaint in October 2006, which was the month Sanchez abruptly left the college.

In the complaint, Ortiz-Cordova alleged that Sanchez made comments to her such as “You are making me horny.”

She also accused him of “making me touch him, touching my breasts, trying to kiss me and once putting his hands down my pants.”

According to the complaint, four other female employees and work-study student were sexually harassed. She stated in the grievance that she was forced to step down from her position.

The college, however, stated in a written response that Ortiz-Cordova and Sanchez had “exhibited inappropriate behavior toward one another,” contending the behavior was consensual and didn’t constitute sexual harassment.