SAN ANTONIO — A Bexar County Precinct 2 deputy constable filed a civil lawsuit against Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela, accusing her of retaliation following an alleged incident in a hot tub.
According to the lawsuit, on July 30, 2017, Chris De La Cerda drove to Galveston, Texas for a 3-day law enforcement seminar. Constable Barrientes Vela joined Deputy Constable Leonicio Moreno and De La Cerda in a hot tub.
The suit alleges Barrientes Vela engaged in “unprofessional and sexually harassing conduct” with Moreno. De La Cerda said he witnessed the incident and noticed that Moreno did everything he could to rebuff the sexual harassment.
After that incident at the Galveston Hotel, the lawsuit alleges Vela exacted punishment on Moreno and De La Cerda, and Moreno pushed back. Moreno and De La Cerda were terminated in March 2018, but got their jobs back on an appeal.
Moreno was arrested earlier this year on a perjury charge related to the incident, but the charge was dismissed.
The lawsuit seeks damages between $200,000 and $1 million.
Barrientes Vela has refuted the allegations in the past. The constable said last month she does not plan to run for sheriff, an idea she had previously floated publicly during Bexar County Commission meetings.
"I am seeking another term in law enforcement," Barrientes-Vela said. "However, the cards have changed for me a bit."
She said she will run to retain her seat, and will run for sheriff in four years.