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Lawyer cites 'inappropriate' tactic in Huizar sex harassment suit

October 29, 2013|By David Zahniser and James Rainey
  • 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 engaging in sexual harassment filed a lawsuit Tuesday to keep the city from forcing her to provide testimony for a special committee investigating her harassment claims.

Michael Eisenberg, the lawyer for former Huizar aide Francine Godoy, said his client received a subpoena last week instructing her to appear as part of an inquiry by the Special Committee on Investigative Oversight, a five-member panel convened last summer in response to her discrimination and sexual harassment complaint.

Council President Herb Wesson instructed the city's personnel department to convene the committee in July. Last week, he headlined a Huizar reelection fundraiser, telling the audience that Huizar is his "best friend" on the council and like a brother.

"These comments demonstrate that any investigation of Ms. Godoy's claims that are directed by Wesson and the City Council will be neither fair nor impartial as it will be fatally tainted by Wesson's deep personal ties to Huizar and his unabashed and enthusiastic support of Huizar," Eisenberg said in a statement.

Eisenberg said in his lawsuit that Godoy had been ordered to appear before the city Wednesday. Godoy, who is pregnant, is scheduled to have a caesarean section Thursday, according to the filing.

Having Godoy testify to the committee, Eisenberg said, is a "tactic that is being used solely 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."

Spokesmen for Huizar and Wesson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer had no comment.

Godoy, who worked for Huizar for seven years, 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 community college board after she refused to provide "sexual favors."

Huizar, who is running for a third 4-year term, called Godoy's allegations false and malicious. He said  he had an extramarital affair with Godoy that he now regrets.

The special committee is made up 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.


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Twitter: @DavidZahniser, @LATimesrainey

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