One Year Ago Today (October 13, 2021)…A woman who did communications consultation work for Inglewood is suing the city and Mayor James T. Butts, alleging he sexually harassed her and even pondered hypnotizing her to get her to submit to his prurient” demands before she was fired in late 2020.
The plaintiff is identified only as Jane Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which alleges sexual harassment, failure to investigate and prevent sexual harassment and retaliation. She seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Friday.
Mira Hashmall, a lawyer for the city and Butts, on Wednesday called Doe’s allegations “false, malicious and defamatory” and said her clients “are prepared to fight these lies all the way to trial. All those responsible for this malicious lawsuit will be held accountable.”
Doe was never an employee of the city because she applied for a part-time position and a routine background check showed she had a burglary conviction, according to Hashmall. Doe was invited to submit an explanation explaining the conviction, but she never followed through and let her application drop.
“Instead, she performed media-related consulting services on a short-term contract that expired under its terms,” Hashmall said.
“Now she is attempting to hide her identity while using litigation as an extortion tactic. There was no sexual violence, assault or harassment of any kind.”
According to the suit, Butts “used his superior power and influence as mayor to intimidate female employees of the city to have unwanted sexual relations with him.”
“The city knew or through the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known about Butts’ history of sexual harassment, yet the city failed to investigate allegations of misconduct against Butts or of his penchant for abusing his position of power,” the suit alleges.
After she was hired in March 2020, Doe “became a victim of Butts’ sexual assault, sexual harassment and abuse of power by his (forcing) her to engage in unwanted sexual activity,” according to the suit.
Butts had the power to control her position and signed one of the checks that was authorized to pay the plaintiff for the work she performed for the city, the suit states.
Butts promised Doe financial opportunities and future employment with the city if she gave in to his sexual demands, the suit alleges.
“He promised her additional job opportunities if she allowed him to attempt to hypnotize her to take advantage of her for his own prurient interests,” according to the suit.
Doe received no help from City Hall management and the “corrosive” work environment continued until the city fired her last December, the suit states.