SLO building inspector headed to Orange County pay-to-stay jail

Chris Olcott

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A judge formally approved on Thursday a San Luis Obispo city building inspector’s request to serve time in a Seal Beach pay-to-stay jail for an assault conviction stemming from a violent attack in a SLO County bar.

On May 28, 2016, Olcott was drinking at Mr. Rick’s in Avila Beach when he purposely bumped into Camile Chavez, a special education teacher at Righetti High School. After he pushed her a second time, Chavez pushed back.

Within seconds, Olcott hit Chavez in the temple with his elbow, knocking her unconscious. Olcott then punched Chavez’s companion, Isaac McCormack, in the back of the head three times. Both Chavez and McCormack suffered concussions during the assault.

Earlier this year, Olcott pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and received 60 days in jail with a three-year suspended sentence. Olcott only faces 30 days of incarceration, and it is expected he will spend 15 in jail and 15 in home detention with an electronic ankle monitor.

County prosecutors objected to Olcott’s pay-to-stay jail request, but Judge Jacquelyn Duffy initially approved it on the condition that the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office would also allow the arrangement. The sheriff’s office approved of the pay-to-stay jail arrangement. 

On Thursday, Duffy formally approved the pay-to-stay arrangement at a San Luis Obispo Superior Court hearing. Olcott must now report to the Orange County facility on Sept. 6.

Pay-to-stay jails are safer and often offer amenities such as newer beds and flat screen televisions. Olcott’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, argued his client should be allowed to serve time in a pay-to-stay jail because he has received death threats due to the outrage over the video of the assault, which was originally published by CalCoastNews. 

 

Chavez voiced frustration with the arrangement, arguing the judicial system was being overly lenient with Olcott, and he should serve his time in SLO County.

Amid public outrage over the assault, in mid-April, SLO City Manager Derek Johnson placed Olcott on paid administrative leave while the city investigated if the inspector could continue to do his job in the interest of workplace and public safety. The city has concluded its investigation, but it has yet to disclose its decision on Olcott’s employment status.

A trove of emails released under the Public Records Act exposed an unusually close relationship between Johnson and Olcott, who is a relatively low-ranked employee with a checkered work history, in addition to his assault conviction. But, in a public statement in April, Johnson said Olcott committed an “unwarranted act of violence” that was “appalling.”

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