A judge's gavel. Photo from Pixabay.
A judge’s gavel. Photo from Pixabay.

A former girlfriend of Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. Tuesday sued the city, Butts and two other city officials, alleging she was wrongfully fired after eight loyal years in late 2019 in retaliation for ending a tumultuous relationship with Butts.

But the city denied all of the “outrageous and unfounded allegations,” and promised to go “all the way to trial.”

Melanie McDade-Dickens’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit allegations include wrongful termination, sexual harassment, failure to investigate and prevent sexual harassment, retaliation, discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent hiring, supervision and retention. She seeks unspecified compensatory damages as well as punitive damages against the individual defendants.

“This lawsuit concerns the disturbing actions of a scorned lover, who also happens to be the mayor of a burgeoning metropolis … who uses his superior power and influence … to seduce a trusted city employee, Melanie McDade-Dickens, to become romantically involved with him,” the suit states.

But after McDade-Dickens ended what was described as a consensual relationship, Butts, “acting every bit like a Black Donald Trump, targeting those who dare to rebuke him,” conspired with city Human Resources Director Jose Cortes and City Manager Artie Fields to ruin her career by retaliating against and ultimately firing the plaintiff from the job that she loved, the suit alleges.

Mira Hashmall, an attorney representing the city, scoffed at the claims against both the city and Butts.

“The city of Inglewood rejects the allegations contained in Melanie McDade’s complaint and is prepared to fight these outrageous and unfounded allegations all the way to trial,” Hashmall said. “The mayor categorically denies any and all allegations of coercion or harassment.”

Hashmall said the lawsuit is “full of salacious fabrications, is a tactic designed to draw attention away from Ms. McDade’s wrongdoing by smearing others. It will not work.”

The city fired McDade-Dickens after allegations of fraud and criminal behavior came to its attention, according to Hashmall.

McDade-Dickens met Butts in 2010 and she volunteered to work on his mayoral campaign, the suit states. He initially asked her to serve as his office manager, but he was so impressed by her knowledge and organizational skill he promoted her his inner circle of advisers as part of his strategy committee, the suit states.

After Butts was elected mayor in 2010, he invited McDade-Dickens to be his executive assistant.

“In the beginning Butts is nurturing, loving and supportive, both personally and professionally,” according to the suit. But the relationship eventually descended “into one of abuse, abuse of power and sexual harassment,” the suit alleges.

Butts used “various tools in his arsenal of abuse, including performing hypnosis on Ms. McDade in his depraved efforts to compel her compliance to his sexual demands,” the suit states.

When McDade-Dickens walked into Butts’ office in March 2018 and told him their relationship was over, he became “enraged,” according to the suit.

Soon, Butts began a “sick effort to recapture her affections,” the suit states. “He starts stalking Ms. McDade every other Friday when city offices are closed. On more than a dozen occasions, Butts terrorizes McDade’s family showing up at her home, unannounced, in the middle of the night.”

Cortes and Fields conspired with Butts to remove job titles and duties from McDade-Dickens and they also excluded her from weekly executive committee meetings she had attended for years, the suit alleges.

McDade-Dickens was fired Dec. 31, 2019 in retaliation for refusing Butts’ alleged advances and for complaining about sexual harassment, the suit states.

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