Houston Public Media has obtained more details about what led to the firing of a senior Harris County official last month. The county's former executive of Universal Services was terminated in May after he declined to take mandatory sexual harassment training.
Houston Public Media obtained a partly redacted letter through a public information request to the Office of County Administration. It detailed the original complaint against retired Major General Rick Noriega that led to his being ordered to take sexual harassment training.
According to the letter, in mid-December of last year, Noriega approached the complainant just outside of Harris County Commissioners Court while the court was in session. The complainant wrote, quote, "I felt an arm come around my back and felt a hand on my right shoulder and then I felt a kiss on my forehead. I realized that it was MG Rick Noriega saying, ‘hello.'"
Multiple news outlets reported Noriega said he intended to sue County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Acting County Administrator Diana Ramirez over his dismissal, claiming retaliation and defamation.
Noriega was hired as head of Universal Services in 2020. Previously, he represented Houston in the Texas House of Representatives from 1998 to 2009. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate against Senator John Cornyn in 2008.
Attempts to reach Noriega to comment for this story were unsuccessful.