A woman who is already suing City Councilman Jose Huizar alleging he sexually harassed her filed a second lawsuit Tuesday in an effort to block a subpoena issued by a city panel investigating the matter.
Huizar’s former deputy chief of staff, Francine Godoy, sued the city earlier this month claiming she was sexually harassed. She filed additional legal papers in Los Angeles Superior Court today hoping to block the subpoena ordering her to submit to a taped interview before the city’s Special Committee on Investigative Oversight.
City attorneys declined to comment on the legal action, but a spokesman for Huizar’s attorneys called the latest legal action “an attempt by Ms. Godoy to obstruct” the city’s investigation “of her absurd and malicious allegations.”
“This would be a prime opportunity for Ms. Godoy to tell her side of the story but given her attorney’s response, we can only conclude that Ms. Godoy is desperately seeking to avoid pointed questions about her outrageous allegations and is hoping to enrich herself with an out-of-court settlement,” spokesman Robert Alaniz said.
Huizar has denied he sexually harassed Godoy, but admitted he carried on an occasional and “consensual” affair with her.
The city panel looking into Godoy’s sexual harassment claims is composed of two former judges, a pair of law professors and a member of the American Arbitration Association. It has met once so far in closed session, on Sept. 13.
The committee was formed in August by City Council President Herb Wesson to
conduct an internal investigation of Godoy’s complaints.
Godoy originally lodged her harassment complaint in June with the state Fair Employment and Housing Department and obtained an immediate “right to sue.”
The lawsuit filed today claims the committee’s subpoena is a “cynical ploy” to obtain information that can then be used against her in her first lawsuit against Huizar and the city.
Wesson last week headlined a fundraiser for Huizar, who is seeking a third four-year term on the council. Wesson told the audience at the event that Huizar “is like my brother, he is my best friend on the council. I trust him with my life. He does the same for me.”
Godoy’s latest legal action contends Wesson’s involvement in creating the special committee “will be fatally tainted by Wesson’s deep, intimate personal and professional ties to Huizar and Wesson’s unabashed and enthusiastic public support of Huizar.”
The suit also claims Huizar did not receive a subpoena, and that Wesson is using the subpoena to “promote Huizar’s personal interests and Wesson’s political interests, as well as harass, vex, annoy and intimidate” Godoy in an attempt to hurt her case against the city and the councilman.
Alaniz said Huizar had not been subpoenaed because “unlike Ms.Godoy, Councilman Huizar has volunteered to cooperate and appear before the committee.”
Wesson said that while he authorized the creation of the commission, he strongly denied that he has any control over its actions. He said the city code “requires that all of the proceedings are kept strictly confidential.”
“Therefore, I do not control the committee and have no role in the investigation,” he said. “I have no knowledge of who is on the committee, and I have no knowledge of what they have done, or may do. To suggest that I have any role in the investigation is entirely inaccurate.”
Godoy attorney Michael Eisenberg contended, however, that the council has the “sole authority for all findings, conclusions and remedial actions” taken by the special committee.
Eisenberg said the city claims the results of the investigation would only be used to determine if the city will pay Huizar’s legal fees. But Eisenberg said that determination is unnecessary until the civil case is resolved.
Godoy was asked to appear before the special committee on Wednesday, but Godoy is pregnant and scheduled to undergo a C-section around Thursday, according to the lawsuit.
The scheduling of the interview was in “extreme disregard for the health of Ms. Godoy and her child as well as the normal discovery rules,” the lawsuit alleges.