L.A. Times Files Motion to Unseal Depositions in Sexual Harassment Case Involving Former Mayor's Aide

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L.A. Times Files Motion to Unseal Depositions in Sexual Harassment Case Involving Former Mayor’s Aide

L.A. Times Files Motion to Unseal Depositions in Sexual Harassment Case Involving Former Mayor’s Aide

Jun 11, 2021

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that an attorney representing the newspaper has requested a judge make public testimony from a lawsuit that could be of interest to Angelenos. Said lawsuit alleges an LAPD officer was sexually harassed by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s former advisor.

Attorney Dan Laidman reportedly filed a motion Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the newspaper. Laidman argued there is an “overriding public interest” in the litigation brought by LAPD Officer Matthew Garza, who was a member of Garcetti’s security detail, according to the Times.

In January, a judge approved an order granting attorneys for both Officer Garza and the City of Los Angeles “broad authority to make records in the case confidential,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The motion filed by the newspaper requests that current judge, Curtis A. Kin, modify that order and make the records public.

The motion filed by the Los Angeles Times states, “Despite the obvious public interest in this litigation – brought against the city by a police officer on the mayor’s security detail, where all of the alleged conduct occurred at City Hall and other official settings – the parties have stipulated to a blanket Protective Order that allows them virtually unfettered discretion to designate any document or deposition confidential, with no showing of good cause.”

The Times reported that the spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer – Rob Wilcox – indicated the city attorneys are reviewing the motion but did not elaborate or provide further comment. An attorney for Officer Garza, Greg Smith, said in an email to the Los Angeles Times that his client supports the newspaper’s motion.

Last year, Officer Garza sued the city alleging the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff, Rick Jacobs, repeatedly sexually harassed him by making crude sexual comments and engaging in inappropriate touching over the course of several years. Garza alleged Jacobs hugged him and massaged his shoulders on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2019. In April, Garza testified that he worried he would face retaliation if he reported the sexual harassment.

“I would have been ostracized,” Garza said in a deposition taken in March 2020 that was reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. “I would have been removed from the [security] detail. If I made that big of a deal of it, if I had sought out a complaint with the sexual harassment division within the city, I no doubt would have been retaliated against. The mayor and his staff is [sic] extremely vindictive.”

Garza alleged the harassment occurred in front of the mayor, but Garcetti never took any action to stop it. According to the Los Angeles Times’ report, Garza’s lawsuit also alleges that the mayor laughed at Jacobs’ crude comments. In a deposition, Mayor Garcetti stated he did not witness any inappropriate behavior on the part of his former aide.

But the Los Angeles Times reported that at least four other depositions have been sealed since March. The motion filed by the Times states that “the parties do not have countervailing interests that could overcome the extremely strong public interest in disclosure here.”

On Wednesday, the Times reported that the former president of a nonprofit organization, Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, testified in his deposition that he heard Garcetti say words to the effect of “I can’t believe Rick Jacobs worked out at City Hall and that we got through it without a lawsuit.”

In his February deposition, Garcetti denied making such a statement. The Times reported that the mayor stands by that testimony.

A decision on the Los Angeles Times’ motion is expected in the coming weeks.

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What Can I Do if I’m Being Sexually Harassed at Work?

What Can I Do if I'm Being Sexually Harassed at Work?
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