A judge has granted a request by a Los Angeles policeman who served on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s security detail for a speedy hearing on whether the mayor should testify in the officer’s sexual harassment lawsuit, a move the plaintiff’s lawyers believe was needed given that Garcetti could land a post in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.
Officer Matthew Garza sued the city July 13 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging he was subjected to repeated acts of sexual harassment by mayoral adviser Rick Jacobs, sometimes in the presence of Garcetti, who allegedly failed to intervene.
Granting Garza’s request for a quick hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth A. Kwan on Friday moved up the original date on of the plaintiff’s motion to compel Garcetti’s deposition from Jan. 28 to Dec. 10.
Garza contends that he was the target of “unwanted sexual harassment” by Jacobs, a political adviser to Garcetti and later a deputy mayor. In a previous statement, Jacobs denied any wrongdoing, saying, “This lawsuit is a work of pure fiction, and is out of left field. Officer Garza and I worked together for many years without incident. I will vigorously defend myself, my character and my reputation.”
“The mayor is a critical percipient witness in this case, as he personally witnessed Rick Jacobs massage plaintiff’s arms and shoulders, make harassing comments in plaintiff’s presence, and subject plaintiff to other harassing conduct,” Garza’s lawyers allege in their court papers, which state that the city has refused to produce Garcetti for a deposition since mid-September.
Advancing the hearing on whether Garcetti can be deposed was necessary to preserve his testimony before he potentially moves out of state to serve in the Biden administration, according to Garza’s attorneys’ court papers.
Garza contends the alleged harassment occurred between 2014 and October 2019. The suit alleges that Jacobs would frequently extend his hand to Garza for a handshake, but when Garza reciprocated, the defendant “would use the handshake to pull (Garza) toward him and give (Garza) a long, tight hug, while simultaneously stating to (Garza) words to the effect of `You’re so strong and handsome,’ `Your muscles are so tight,’ `I love me my strong LAPD officers’ or some other inappropriate comment.”
The suit alleges Garcetti “was present on approximately half of the occasions when Jacobs behaved in this way, and witnessed Jacobs’ conduct, but he took no action to correct Jacobs’ obviously harassing behavior.”