LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council Friday agreed to pay for legal fees for Councilman Jose Huizar following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a former staffer.
The City Council voted 10-0 to cover Huizar’s legal fees defending the case filed by Francine Godoy agreeing to pay Walsh & Associates up to $200,000. Attorneys have billed the city about $41,570 in fees since August 1, 2013, according to city documents.
No one on the City Council would comment on the decision to CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Dave Lopez.
The five-member independent committee hired to investigate the matter released their findings in a report saying, “no further investigation is needed in this matter” — essentially calling Godoy’s claims baseless.
Godoy’s attorney Michael Eisenberg called the report a sham and said his client would be filing suit against Huizar.
Godoy, who served as the deputy chief of staff in Huizar’s 14th District council office, sued both Huizar and the city last Oct. 17. She alleges she was subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation when she refused Huizar’s advances, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The councilman later acknowledged a consensual relationship with the woman, but denied the allegations.
Lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office maintain in court papers filed Thursday that the city spent “significant sums of money” investigating Godoy’s complaints pursuant to the city Administrative Code. According to attorneys, Godoy “utterly refused to cooperate with that investigation” and claimed she had a constitutional right to refuse to be interviewed by an independent investigator.
Weeks after the lawsuit was filed, allegations surfaced in December alleging Huizar had groped a massage therapist at the Burke Williams spa in Old Town Pasadena on April 9, 2005, when Huizar was serving as president of the L.A. school board.
The massage therapist accused the councilman of grabbing her leg, arm and breast during the treatment, The Times said.
The woman later decided she didn’t want to proceed with the complaint, which was initially investigated as a possible misdemeanor sexual battery, police told The Times.
Last month, the City Council approved a $185,000 settlement paid to a private investigator whose car was rear-ended by a city-owned vehicle driven by Huizar.
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