Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
An elected leader and the president of a prominent Coastside nonprofit are headed to court over a confrontation at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve on Saturday. Review file photo

A confrontation at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve's 50th anniversary celebration has led to a court date for one Coastside elected representative and for the man who at the time was president of the nonprofit local organization that supports the county park.

Steve Slomka, then president of the Friends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, says an angry Sabrina Brennan confronted him on the morning of May 11 as several hundred people convened for ceremonies meant to celebrate the organization that donates time and money toward operations at the county park. Brennan is a member of the San Mateo County Harbor District board of directors.

On Monday, Slomka filed court papers seeking protection from Brennan. A day later he resigned from the Friends of Fitzgerald board of directors.

The next day, in a letter sent on May 15 to other Harbor Commissioners and the Commission’s attorney, Slomka claims Brennan “accosted” him as the ceremonies were beginning and accused him of being a “serial sexual predator.”

“Brennan’s actions were designed to be witnessed publicly and were, in fact, witnessed publicly,” Slomka wrote. He accuses Brennan of libel, slander and making defamatory statements.

Slomka says Brennan’s accusations relate to a 2017 encounter he had with another woman. He says during that encounter he tried to kiss the woman but was rebuffed. He says that incident ended without any further acrimony and was just a misunderstanding.

Brennan says the woman told her of the encounter and concluded that what happened that day was sexual assault. She says she talked to Slomka quietly and in a professional manner at the Fitzgerald event, because she wanted the Friends of Fitzgerald board to know of the allegations and couldn’t get in touch with them any other way.

“I wasn’t trying to stir things up,” she said on Thursday. “Quietly, there was no yelling, I just told him, ‘Steve, I know about what happened when you sexually assaulted my friend.’”

Slomka says the Harbor District was invited to the Saturday event and thinks Brennan was there in her official capacity; she says she was there solely as a neighbor who cares about the marine reserve and feels she had a responsibility to come forward.

On May 13, the first business day after the confrontation, Slomka filed for a restraining order, claiming to be an elder or dependent adult in need of protection. In it, he says his personal reputation has been decimated due to unfounded accusations and asks that Brennan keep at least 100 yards away from him and stop making what he says are defamatory statements about him. The San Mateo County Superior Court has set a May 31 hearing on the matter.

This version corrects how Brennan first learned of the allegations. It also clarifies that the county sponsored the event.

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