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L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar's accuser files second suit

Francine Godoy, who accused Huizar of sexual harassment, says city officials are attempting to intimidate her by forcing her to testify a day before she is due to give birth.

October 29, 2013|By James Rainey and David Zahniser
  • City Councilman Jose Huizar, left, and his former Deputy Chief of Staff Francine Godoy, who is now suing him alleging sexual harassment.
City Councilman Jose Huizar, left, and his former Deputy Chief of Staff… (Al Seib / Irfan Khan / Los…)

The woman who has accused Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar of sexual harassment filed a second lawsuit Tuesday, claiming that city officials are attempting to intimidate her by forcing her to testify a day before she is due to give birth.

Former Huizar aide Francine Godoy's lawsuit asks a judge to block the city's attempt to compel her to speak to an investigator representing the city Wednesday, one day before the suit says she is scheduled to have a caesarean section.

Godoy claims that the subpoena issued to her last week is designed to preempt the proper questioning she would undergo in her lawsuit against Huizar, her onetime boss at City Hall. She has accused Huizar of waging a campaign of retaliation and harassment against her. She alleged that Huizar torpedoed her effort to run for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College District board after she refused to provide "sexual favors."

Huizar, who is running for a third four-year term, has called Godoy's allegations false and malicious. The married father of four said that he had an extramarital affair with Godoy that he now regrets.

Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for Huizar's attorneys, rejected the accuser's latest claims. "This is clearly an attempt by Ms. Godoy to obstruct the city's established process by the city's code for an impartial and methodical investigation of her absurd and malicious allegations," Alaniz said.

Godoy's new lawsuit contends that the City Council cannot be impartial when it comes time to review the findings of a special committee assigned to investigate the matter. As proof, she cited a recent statement by council President Herb Wesson, who last week headlined a Huizar fundraiser and described his council colleague as "like my brother" and "my best friend on the council."

Wesson called on the city Personnel Department last summer to convene a Special Committee on Investigative Oversight to look into Godoy's allegations. But the council's review of the investigation "will be fatally tainted by Wesson's deep, intimate personal and professional ties to Huizar," Godoy charged.

Huizar's legal spokesman said that the special committee is made up of "some of Southern California's most ethical and seasoned legal professionals" and that Godoy's attempt to block an interrogation this week showed that she does not want the truth to come out.

Wesson said he had no information about the makeup or practices of the committee since calling for its formation. "To suggest that I have any role in the investigation is entirely inaccurate," the council president said in a statement.

Godoy's lawyer, Michael Eisenberg, said that having his client testify to the committee's investigator is also a tactic designed to "gain an inappropriate advantage in this civil lawsuit, by attacking the victim of harassment and demanding that she testify the day before she gives birth."

Godoy left Huizar's office in April, taking a job with the city's Bureau of Sanitation, and later got married.

The city's special investigative committee is composed of two retired judges, two law professors and a representative of the American Arbitration Assn. The panel is convened only when a complaint of discrimination, sexual harassment or retaliation is filed against an elected official at City Hall.

Its findings will be referred to the City Council.

james.rainey@latimes.com

david.zahniser@latimes.com

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