Cut the K.J. hero worship

I was 14 the first time I saw Kevin Johnson take to the podium. I was a freshman at Sacramento High School and Johnson, then a basketball player at UC Berkeley, had returned to Oak Park as a hometown hero.

Although it would be a few years before Johnson joined the NBA, students and faculty treated the future mayor like a celebrity. And why not? While at Sac High, he'd led the state in scoring and in 1983 was named the Northern California Player of the Year.

Decades later, long after his NBA stint, Johnson's celebrity status endures, even as he's been dogged by numerous scandals.

Some highlights: In 1995, a 16-year-old girl accused Johnson of molesting her. Johnson denied the allegation and settled out of court. In 2008, Johnson faced similar accusations while at St. Hope Academy, the former Sacramento High School campus-turned-charter school he founded. No charges were filed.

Then last week another scandal emerged after news broke that a city employee had filed a sexual-harassment claim against the mayor. Specifically, she alleged Johnson had harassed her repeatedly and that her supervisors had failed to take action.

Johnson has denied the charge and the matter was settled internally—safe from the glare of public scrutiny: On May 12, the city council voted unanimously in a closed-door session to approve city attorney James Sanchez's recommendation to reject the woman's claim.

Whether one holds credence in the old saying “where there's smoke there's fire,” it's time to stop with the closed doors and settlements. There should be a full and independent public investigation into this latest charge.

It's time to cut the hero worship and start asking the hard questions. It's time to hold Johnson accountable.