UPDATE: Claims Of Sexual Harassment Against Huizar “Did Not Reveal Any Evidence”
By City News Service
A panel hired by the city to investigate sexual harassment and retaliation claims made against Councilman Jose Huizar by a former aide concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Huizar.
The concluding section of the report, which was obtained today by City News Service, evaluates the 18 allegations made by Francine Godoy against Huizar in a complaint filed with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation and denial of employment. In each case, the probe “did not reveal any evidence” to support the claims, according to the panel.
Regarding Godoy’s claim of a hostile work environment in the 14th Council District, the panel found that “to the contrary of the allegation, many CD-14 staff members expressed that Ms. Godoy created a hostile work environment, by targeting others with criticism and profanity.”
The report, prepared by Batza and Associates in conjunction with a Special Committee on Investigative Oversight appointed by Council President Herb Wesson, notes that Godoy refused to cooperate in the investigation, so the probe “was as thorough as possible given the circumstances.”
Godoy sued Huizar and the city last year, alleging — among other things—that her former boss offered to support her in an election campaign in exchange for sex. She claimed she declined to provide sexual favors, leading to a pattern of discrimination and retaliation that included Huizar withdrawing his support for Godoy’s bid for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.
Huizar has denied any wrongdoing, although the married councilman admitted last October that he and Godoy had a “consensual” relationship that he “deeply regrets.”
Godoy’s attorney, Michael Eisenberg, could not be reached for immediate comment on the city’s investigative report. In the past, he has been critical of the city’s investigation, noting that Wesson—who ordered the probe—headlined a political fundraiser for Huizar last October, calling Huizar his “best friend on the council.”
Eisenberg filed court papers last year calling the city investigation an attempt to obtain information that could be used against Godoy in her lawsuit.
Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for Huizar’s law firm, Walsh & Associates, hailed the report’s findings.
“We are very pleased that after a thorough and exhaustive review with numerous and comprehensive interviews, this distinguished panel of legal professionals has concluded that Ms. Godoy’s allegations are baseless,” Alaniz told City News Service.
“We have maintained all along that Ms. Godoy’s claims are false and malicious and that her claims are motivated by greed and a desire to destroy the councilman’s reputation because he would not help advance her career as she demanded,” he said.
The City Council voted 10-0 today to cover Huizar’s legal fees defending against the lawsuit, agreeing to pay Walsh & Associates up to $200,000.
Council members have received copies of the investigative report, but it was not reviewed by the council when it met in closed session today to discuss paying Huizar’s legal fees.
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April 11, 2014 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.