One Year Ago Today (December 16, 2020)…A Los Angeles police officer who sued the city, alleging he was subjected to repeated acts of sexual harassment by a former mayoral adviser, says in a sworn declaration that Mayor Eric Garcetti witnessed many of the incidents, never intervened to stop them and often laughed at the ex-aide’s remarks.
Officer Matthew Garza’s statement was submitted in support of his motion to compel Garcetti’s deposition in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that Garza filed against the city, which is scheduled to be heard by Judge Ruth A. Kwan on Thursday.
Garza filed the suit July 13, alleging sex and gender harassment. According to Garza, from October 2013 until October of 2019, he was assigned to the LAPD’s police protection unit for the mayor. He says he was required to drive Garcetti to and from mayoral engagements and accompany him on out-of-town trips and that former mayoral adviser Rick Jacobs often accompanied them.
Garza alleges Jacobs subjected him on “hundreds of occasions to unwanted and unwelcome sexual comments and touching,” including tight hugs and shoulder rubbing.
“Mayor Eric Garcetti was present on numerous occasions when Jacobs subjected me to these unwanted comments and touchings, including on occasions when it was only the mayor, Rick Jacobs and myself in a vehicle, as would be the case when I was driving the mayor somewhere and Jacobs was accompanying the mayor to his destination,” Garza says.
Garza maintains that on multiple occasions when he was driving, Garcetti was seated in the front passenger or back seat of the car with Jacobs. The officer alleges that Jacobs massaged his shoulders, told him he was strong, commented about having “rough sex” with his gay partners and spoke about his preference for younger men.
“Mayor Garcetti, who directly observed this inappropriate behavior, never took any action to stop Jacobs from touching me or making these comments,” Garza says in his declaration. “In fact, on many occasions I heard Mayor Garcetti laugh in response to Jacobs’ comments…”
The plaintiff’s motion to compel Garcetti’s deposition was originally scheduled to be heard Jan. 28, but Garza’s lawyers convinced the judge to hear it a month earlier in case the mayor was given a position in the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office maintain Kwan should deny the motion because Garcetti has no “personal factual information” about the allegations and that Garza’s declaration contains only vague allegations.
“(Garza) does not identify a single instance in which the mayor witnessed the alleged misconduct, instead alleging only that on multiple occasions the mayor was in close proximity to various kinds of alleged misconduct,” the lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office state in their court papers.
Garza and his attorneys have said there are “dozens of witnesses” who will support his argument that the city knew or should have known of Jacobs’ alleged misconduct, according to the papers submitted by the City Attorney’s Office.
“It is patently evident … that the mayor’s testimony is available through other sources … Mr. Jacobs and (Garza) himself,” according to the City Attorney’s response.
Jacobs took a leave of absence from his job in October.