LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Embattled Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar spoke out publicly Tuesday about a sexual harassment lawsuit brought about by his former deputy chief of staff, who he admittedly had an affair with.
“All I can say is that…the allegations are false and malicious,” Huizar told CBS2’s Dave Lopez. “It’s under litigation. The facts will play out. There is lots to say.”
Last Thursday, 34-year-old Francine Godoy, who worked in Huizar’s office for seven years, filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming the councilman encouraged her to run for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees and then withdrew his support when she refused his sexual advances.
“…Huizar explicitly conditioned the plaintiff’s employment benefits on sexual favors and when the plaintiff refused Huizar’s sexual advances and opposed Huizar’s sexual harassment, Huizar began a campaign of retaliation against the plaintiff,” the lawsuit stated.
Godoy said Huizar began to cut back her duties in his office, which eventually forced her to get another job.
A spokesman for Huizar’s attorney said the councilman, who is married with four children, had a consensual relationship with Godoy, but never sexually harassed her.
Back in August, Godoy also filed a complaint with the state about the alleged harassment. Since then, the president of the Los Angeles City Council has appointed a special committee to investigate the charges. That panel has met once so far, but has not taken any action, according to Raelynn Napper, the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator.
Huizar’s admission came as the councilman attempts to rally support for a 2015 re-election campaign. His supporters gathered Tuesday for a fundraiser in downtown Los Angeles.
Women who attended the event said the lawsuit against Huizar doesn’t change their opinion of him as an elected official.
“He’s a really good positive image in our community that we can work with…that’s exactly who we are supporting,” said Diana Del Pozomora.
“If you’re gonna make a decision to vote, you should vote for the person who will do the best job, not has the best marriage,” said Patti Berman, the president of the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council.
The fundraiser also drew a diverse crowd of community activists, downtown developers, assorted lobbyists and business leaders. They insist Huizar’s personal life is irrelevant to his work as a councilman.
“Councilmembers are elected to vote on laws, to improve the lives of folks in Los Angeles. Councilmembers are elected to serve their constituents, and to provide public services that are necessary, and make change for the better. If a public official does those things, then they should be re-elected. If they don’t, then they shouldn’t,” said Ruben Gonzalez.
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