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Holden Must Face Trial in Harassment Lawsuit

Government: The state Supreme Court rules that the action filed by a former aide against the Los Angeles councilman can go forward.

June 11, 1998| From a Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden must face trial in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former aide, the California Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The court voted without dissent to permit a suit by former Holden aide Carla Cavalier to proceed. A trial judge in 1995 had dismissed the case.

Cavalier charged that Holden created a hostile work environment by making lewd remarks and touching her inappropriately. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Byron K. McMillan decided that her charges lacked enough merit to be tried.

A Court of Appeal in Los Angeles reinstated the suit in March, ruling that Cavalier had presented "more than enough evidence" to proceed with her case. The court cited allegations that Holden touched the base of Cavalier's neck and played with her hair, ran his hand over her buttocks in the reception area of his office and tried to kiss her at a 1991 Christmas party.

Holden has denied the allegations and expressed confidence that a jury will clear him. Taxpayers are defending the councilman in the case. As of March, the city had spent $1.3 million on Holden's defense.

Cavalier's suit was one of three sexual harassment complaints filed against Holden. One was dropped, and a judge ruled in Holden's favor in the other after a trial.

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