Mayor Kevin Johnson has denied renewed sex harassment allegations from 1996. “These allegations are two decades old,” said Ben Sosenko, the mayor’s spokesman. “They were thoroughly investigated and rejected by law enforcement and reported in the media. They weren’t true then and they aren’t true now. Period.” Lezlie Sterling Sacramento Bee file
Mayor Kevin Johnson has denied renewed sex harassment allegations from 1996. “These allegations are two decades old,” said Ben Sosenko, the mayor’s spokesman. “They were thoroughly investigated and rejected by law enforcement and reported in the media. They weren’t true then and they aren’t true now. Period.” Lezlie Sterling Sacramento Bee file

City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

City Beat

Woman speaks publicly about her Phoenix molestation allegations against Kevin Johnson

By Ryan Lillis

rlillis@sacbee.com

September 25, 2015 02:23 PM

The woman who accused Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson of molesting her when she was a teenager nearly two decades ago in Phoenix has come forward, telling the sports website Deadspin she has now decided “to say what I want” after previously declining comment.

Deadspin on Friday identified the woman as Mandi Koba, 36. A woman by that name runs a blog with articles about surviving sexual abuse and has a Twitter account that promotes ways for women to discuss and overcome sexual abuse.

Koba did not return phone and email messages from The Sacramento Bee on Friday.

The Bee had previously tried to interview the woman when the newspaper first reported in 2008 that she and Johnson had signed a draft confidential settlement agreement in 1997 worth $230,000. She declined an interview request at the time.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

The settlement stemmed from a 1996 Phoenix police investigation into allegations that Johnson, who was 29 at the time, disrobed in the alleged victim’s presence and touched her inappropriately. The girl, whom The Bee identified in 2008 as Amanda, was 16 at the time of the alleged encounter.

Johnson denied the allegations and no criminal charges were filed.

A copy of the Phoenix police report that accompanied the investigation identifies Johnson’s accuser as Amanda Alexis Koba.

“These allegations are two decades old,” said Ben Sosenko, the mayor’s spokesman. “They were thoroughly investigated and rejected by law enforcement and reported in the media. They weren’t true then and they aren’t true now. Period.”

In the Deadspin article, Koba said she was “fully aware of the consequences” of speaking now, an apparent reference to her settlement agreement not to discuss the allegations.

“I just felt like I wasn’t doing anything but protecting (Johnson),” Koba told Deadspin.

Deadspin reported that Koba now has three young children.

According to the Phoenix police report from 1996, Koba met Johnson in 1995 when she was 15 years old. Koba told police that she and Johnson quickly developed a friendship and that she considered the NBA star a father figure.

Under questioning from a Phoenix police detective, Koba alleged that Johnson fondled her at his home and that the two showered together.

The draft settlement obtained by The Bee noted that Johnson denied the allegations. The agreement prohibited the teen and her mother from discussing the case publicly or they would forfeit the money, some of which was to be paid immediately for medical, therapy and legal costs, followed by six-month installments ending June 1, 2001.

Koba told Deadspin she has not spoken with Johnson since the two reached a settlement and he apologized over the telephone. She said she dropped out of the University of San Francisco after one semester, but eventually earned a degree in women’s studies from the University of Arizona in 2003.

According to Deadspin, Koba suffered from “an eating disorder that required hospitalization” and has been unable “to share or enjoy her kids’ growing love of sports.” She said she spent her settlement money on “meaningless things.”

Johnson has been the subject of other sexual misconduct allegations.

Early in Johnson’s 2008 campaign for mayor, a police report filed by a former teacher from Sacramento High School surfaced alleging that a 17-year-old student at the school told the teacher Johnson had approached her from behind, massaged her shoulders and touched her breasts. Johnson founded the nonprofit St. Hope organization that operates Sacramento High School as a charter school.

Sacramento police later said the girl recanted her story and found the allegation to be unfounded.

In the most recent instance, a former staff aide to Sacramento City Manager John Shirey filed a claim with the city of Sacramento in April accusing Johnson of sexual harassment. The City Attorney’s Office and an outside law firm both determined the claim was unsubstantiated and the city denied the $200,000 claim.

An attorney for the woman, Ilee Muller, initially told The Bee that he would not comment because the case was ongoing. But hours later, the mayor’s office issued a statement on behalf of Muller’s attorney saying “my client is satisfied with the conclusion of this matter.”

Asked if Johnson had reached a paid settlement with Muller, the mayor’s political adviser, Steve Maviglio, referred that question to City Attorney James Sanchez, who did not comment on the matter.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis