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District attorney declines to file charges after sexual assault investigation into Democratic chair

San Diego County Democratic Party chairman Will Rodriguez-Kennedy speaks at an Election Night party, March 3, 2020.
Andi Dukleth
San Diego County Democratic Party Chairman Will Rodriguez-Kennedy speaks at an election party, March 3, 2020.

San Diego County prosecutors will not file sexual assault charges against Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

"After a thorough review, we determined that no charges could be filed in this case," San Diego County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said in an email on Friday. "We do not discuss our charging decisions except to say that we can only file charges when we believe we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt."

Rodriguez-Kennedy, who is currently on leave from his post, announced the district attorney’s decision in a press release on Friday. He repeated his denial of the sexual assault accusations lodged by an ex-boyfriend, adding that he had cooperated with investigators from both the San Diego Police Department and district attorney’s office.

"With this trauma behind me, I look forward to returning to my work in service of the public and my party," Rodriguez-Kennedy said. "I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I have received."

Rodriguez-Kennedy's leave of absence began in May, after the assault allegations became public in a Facebook post from activist Tasha Williamson. The accuser, who had turned to Williamson for guidance, said Rodriguez-Kennedy had sex with him while he was intoxicated and incapable of giving consent.

It's still unclear when or if Rodriguez-Kennedy will return to his unpaid position as party chair.

Rebecca Taylor has been serving as acting chair during Rodriguez-Kennedy's leave. Neither Taylor nor Ryan Hurd, executive director of the San Diego County Democratic Party, responded to an email by this story's deadline.

Also unclear is the status of an internal investigation from the party itself. The party's bylaws state its Ethics Committee shall conduct an initial review of any complaints against a party official within 14 days. After that review, the committee has 30 days to make a recommendation to the party's Executive Committee, though that deadline can be extended.

The party said in a statement to KPBS in July: "The internal investigation process requires the information from the conclusion of the ongoing law enforcement investigation, and as such is still ongoing and cannot be commented on further."

Rodriguez-Kennedy worked as a staff member for Mike Schaefer, a member of the state Board of Equalization, from January 2021 to May 2022 of this year. He remains on the board of directors of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.

Corrected: September 19, 2022 at 8:57 AM PDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the timeframe Will Rodriguez-Kennedy worked for Mike Schaefer. It has been corrected. KPBS regrets the error.
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